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Life Lessons Learned on Skis

December 03 2021 – Sauce Info


Sauce creates custom headwear for many different sports teams and events across North America with a significant amount being elite nordic ski teams. These top level athletes have been competing in the sport for many years and have gotten to the impressive level they’re at now through hard work, determination, and passion. We were able to talk to these teams and individual athletes about specific values/lessons that are important to them, which they learned through years of participating in xc skiing and if you are new to nordic skiing, or any sport for that matter, pay attention - this insider info could be of great use to you! 

One of the teams we create headwear for is the Bridger Ski Foundation (BSF) Pro Team, based out of Bozeman. This season, the team is comprised of eight elite nordic skiers coached by retired American national ski team member and olympian, Andy Newell. The BSF Pro team is a community-supported olympic development program that gives talented, committed skiers the opportunity to reach their full athletic potential. Graham Houtsma, first-time BSF Pro team member and recent graduate from Bates College, talked to us about his experience so far in nordic skiing. He had some great insights about his methods of overcoming certain challenges and adversities that many young athletes could relate to and learn from.


How important is overcoming adversity to your performance in xc skiing?

Overcoming adversity plays a huge role in how to perform as a xc skier, whether that is something physical or mental. For me, it's about understanding what I can control and then going from there. 

Describe a time that you were faced with challenges you had to overcome in xc skiing.

Going into my junior year at Bates College, I was mentally struggling to find the joy in cross-country skiing and as a result I was faced with the decision to hang up the skis and put away the race suit or try and remember why I love racing. For me the best thing to do was to take some time away to help clear my head, and looking back, it was the best decision I could have made. 

What about a time outside of xc skiing?

Learning how to manage my time better and where and when to spend it. I’d like to say that I have mastered the skill but to this day it is something that I’m still working on. 

What did you learn from overcoming these obstacles?

I learned that it's okay to sometimes step away from something to get a better perspective on why you are doing it. In the case of skiing, I love the sport and after spending time away, had my best season ever. As for time management, check back in with me in a few years, as like I said before it's still a work in progress.

How did this make you grow as an athlete?

I would say that I feel more mature now than I did four years ago. But I guess that's also just how life works, everything adds on top of each other.

What is one piece of advice you would give to younger athletes about overcoming adversity?

The one piece of advice that I would give is the adversity that you encounter isn’t always terrible. If anything, adversity will make you a better athlete because it's difficult and because it's challenging. As such it will force you out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar waters. But the great thing about it is that once you have overcome that challenge, whether it be big or small, you will be better in the long run. 

Since Graham has talked to us he has returned from a camp and time trials up in Canmore Alberta where he was able to achieve some very strong results leading into the start of the upcoming season. If you see Graham training while out on the trails in Bozeman feel free to wish him luck for his winter of racing!