By Peter Vordenberg
Barb Jones started cross-country ski racing in elementary school and continued through her college years. Every year, with the support of her family and school teams, she got faster. In 1999, her last year of college at Dartmouth, she was recognized as one of the countrys 10 best skiers.Despite her success, Jones (shown at left) never thought competing after college was a possibility. Going for the Olympics never seemed an option, she says. After college there was no way I could afford to pursue skiing not without the Factory Team.
The Factory Team was the brainchild of Andy Gerlach, a former athlete who recognized the dilemma competitive skiers such as Jones had been facing. Id watch these kids getting faster and faster every year. You could see the spark in their eyes as they began to really come into their own, Gerlach says. Then, because there was no support after college, theyd have to quit. I couldnt stand it.
Fortunately, Gerlach knew how to help. His love of athletics had led him to found Endurance Enterprises, Inc., a sports marketing firm that partners with businesses and athletes to promote active, healthy lifestyles. Gerlach started the Subaru Factory Team to help skiers chase their dreams. Weve come a long way, says Gerlach. With the support of our partners, weve gained enough resources to really expand our programs. When Subaru came on board as our title sponsor, we moved into a new world.
Gerlach understood that Subaru of America had a commitment to supporting active,
outdoor lifestyles, and would be a perfect sponsor for the team. Subaru even supplies
three Outback Limited wagons for the team to use.
nine olympians so far
Today the Subaru Factory Team is the nations premier professional cross-country ski team. Since its creation in 1995, nine of the teams skiers have competed in the Olympic games. Eight skiers on the team hope to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City including Jones, who is ranked fourth in the United States.
Ill be going back to school, beams Jones. But first Im working on being Olympic bound.
The mission of the Factory Team is to enable the dreams of all cross-country skiers, not just Olympic-bound competitors. According to Gerlach, the teams motto is The Factory Team is living out their dreams, and we wish to help you live out yours.
To this end, the Factory Team provides free skiing clinics nationwide, and offers ski academies and coaching. It also has created a free guide for novice skiers, The Pocket Guide to Cross-Country Skiing, and has established www.skipost.com, which includes an e-mail newsletter and an e-mail answer service. The sites features are designed to supply skiers of all abilities with the know-how and inspiration to achieve their skiing dreams whether they want to get faster, become fitter or just have a great time skiing.
Thats the lifestyle we promote, explains Gerlach, because thats the lifestyle we love to live.
Two-time Olympian Peter Vordenberg is a member of the Subaru Factory Team and loyal Subaru vehicle driver. To follow the Subaru Factory Team, visit www.subaru.com/outdoorlife (click on SNOW).