A Long Slow Career

The life of a professional ski racer seems pretty attractive at times. It’s hard work, to be sure, and like any other job parts of it must be very difficult mentally. But you get to spend a ton of time outdoors, travel to all sorts of awesome locales and best of all you get to ski. All the time.

It always seemed like a great life to me, provided you can afford it financially.  How long could you last skiing on the World Cup circuit without being fast enough to earn a serious living off of it?  Quite a while, it turns out.

Long Slow Careers
NameGenderNationSeasonsBest ResultRace Count
RIBO JordiMenSPA82454
BRODAR NejcMenSLO72251
ANTONOVA ElenaWomenKAZ162159
ANTAL ZsoltMenROU131951
MARENT AlexanderMenAUT121973

These are five of the more extreme examples that I found.  The best result is their best finishing place.  All of these statistics include both sprint and distance results.  Here’s a look at each of these five skier’s international careers:

The blue line represents 30th place for the sprint races, marking the cutoff for the elimination rounds.  The numbers on the y-axis refer to FIS points for the distance results and finishing rank (1st, 2nd etc) for the sprint results.

Antonova takes the win for the longest career here with a stunning 16 years, although it looks as though she might have taken some breaks at times.  She was the second most successful of the group too, finishing in the top 30 nine times over her career (twice in sprints).

Alexander Marent was actually somewhat faster than his inclusion here would suggest.  At least, he was reasonably fast between the ages of 30-33.  His best finish was 19th (twice) but he cracked the top 30 22 times.  Sixteen of those results came between ages 30 and 33.  Did I mention that Marent is from Austria and that he was 30 during the 1998-1999 season, which included the Ramsau World Championships?  Moving on…

The rest of this group never had more than 4-5 results in the top 30.

I should say that I really don’t intend this post to be mean at all.  Mostly, I’m just jealous.  I don’t know how these guys managed it.  If they were truly supported to a large degree by some combination of sponsors and ski organizations, than I’m really really jealous.  I suppose it’s more likely, though, that many of these skiers had “day jobs” and squeezed in boat loads of training while trying to earn a living at their “real” job.  Which, of course, doesn’t sound nearly as idyllic.

Related posts:

  1. Career Retrospective: Pirjo Muranen
  2. Career Retrospective: Rene Sommerfeldt
  3. Career Retrospective: Sabina Valbusa
  4. How Often Can You Go Fast?
  5. Should You Start Fast Or Slow?

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