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McCadam’s Olympic migration

Placer grad to coach America’s best on the sport’s biggest stage
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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If there’s snow and world-class ski racers on the mountain, Seth McCadam is probably somewhere in the vicinity. Whether in Europe, South America, Asia or in between, the Placer High graduate has been on the snow at least part of every month for the past six years. And this week, he’ll be on the most hallowed white stuff in the world at Whistler, British Columbia. McCadam will coach the U.S. slalom and giant slalom skiers as they go after Olympic hardware this week. While athletes like Julia Mancuso and Lindsey Vonn are inundated by media and showered with attention, McCadam will be working hard in the background and enjoying the experience at the pinnacle of his profession. “It’s super-rewarding for me personally,” McCadam said. “I get to travel the world and work with great athletes and that’s my passion. It’s at the elite level and this is what I’ve always wanted to do.” The GS race take place Wednesday. McCadam will be up before dawn, setting up a warmup course for his athletes. Later in the morning he’ll inspect the course with the American skiers, figure out the fastest lines and plot out strategies. When the racing begins, he’ll be somewhere along the course making notes and gathering feedback for the Americans after their first runs. “During the race we’re in position, spread out along the course so we can connect our lines of sight with each other,” McCadam explained. Vonn and Mancuso will be the headliners when they hit the mountain Wednesday and again for the slalom race on Friday. Mancuso is the defending gold medallist in the GS and though she was not in great form heading into the Olympics, she’s been one of the major surprises through the first three alpine races. “She’s been struggling more with the technical events and nagging injuries have prevented her from training as much as she could,” McCadam said of the Squaw Valley skier who has already won two silver medals at Whistler. “But I would never count her out.” McCadam said Vonn is a medal contender in any event, “whether she’s healthy or not.” Among the lesser known skiers on his team, McCadam calls veteran Sarah Schleper the top technical skier on the team as well as the, “mother of the team.” Megan McJames is a darkhorse and McCadam calls Hailey Duke a major threat for a medal in the slalom. McCadam spent the last couple of weeks in Jackson Hole, where the team got some valuable training in, away from the limelight of Vancouver. “They’re in a rest period going into the game,” McCadam said. “They’re doing low loads and just using that time to hone in their skills and make sure they’re recovered every day. They’ve been racing and training like crazy the last three months so we wanted to quiet it down and relax before (the Olympics).” McCadam once dreamed of competing in the Olympics himself. He was a prodigy as a youngster in the Auburn Ski Club and won an individual state title at Placer High. He went on to ski at Sierra College, then the University of Nevada, where his competitive racing career came to an end. McCadam knew he didn’t want to leave the mountains and quickly transitioned into coach. “I was coaching real young kids throughout college and said, ‘This is pretty fun,’” McCadam explained. “I thought if I could make a career out of it, I would. I’ve been real fortunate with the opportunities I’ve had.” After coaching a junior developmental team at Auburn Ski Club, McCadam coached for the Sugar Bowl team, then spent several years in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The success he had and the connections he made in Jackson Hole eventually led to his current job – assistant coach for the U.S. women’s alpine ski team. He was hired shortly after the Winter Olympics in Torino in 2006 and has helped the U.S. squad develop into a group full of medal contenders. The Auburn Ski Club is honored to have one of its alumni among the U.S. representatives in Vancouver. “To our way of life and the kids and families that come through our program, it means s much as having someone on the Olympic team,” ASC President Bill Clark said. “Skiing is a bit more of a culture than most sports. He’s put in the time, spent countless months living out of a suitcase and making a lot of sacrifices and we’re definitely proud.” McCadam credits Clark and former Sierra coach Ryan Rodarte for planting the seeds that led to his coaching success. “The Auburn Ski Club was huge for me,” he said. “People in Auburn and the foothills are so passionate about skiing. Bill Clark and Ryan Rodarte were definitely inspirational for me as an athlete and as a coach. Those two guys along with the club definitely shaped me.” After the World Cup season winds down next month, McCadam said he’ll finally get some time to relax this spring. He plans to visit family and friends in Auburn and, of course, return to the mountains where he learned his craft. “There’s no better spring skiing in the world than Donner Summit,” he said. After that he’ll return home to Oregon for a few weeks before taking off to South America in search of more fresh powder. “Like any job there are ups and downs, but it’s something you love to do,” McCadam said. “There’s no money in it, but when y ou’re fatigued you just look out from the top of the mountain and say ‘This is my office.’”