BACKGROUND - We discover Gus Schumacher, the boy who came from Alaska to amaze the world of cross-country.
Thanks to the valuable contribution of his coach Jan Buron, let's get to know the Alaskan Gus Schumacher recently winner of two historic gold medals at the World Junior Championships for the nation with stars and stripes.
On May 1st of last year, the then nineteen-year-old Gus Schumacher , when resuming training in view of the new 2019-20 season, had written in capital letters at the top of the first page of his training diary the following objective: “WIN WORLD JUNIORS! ! "
Every day, from there to this March, he would open the diary to record the results of training and tests to fix himself well in the head and try to achieve with all his strength what was the only and primary goal of his season. In 2019 at the Lahti Junior World Championships he had lost gold by just seven tenths in the 30km mass start in classic, won by the blue Luca Del Fabbro, finishing in fourth place.
Nine months later, the Alaska cross-country skier would have written the history of American Nordic skiing in Oberwiesenthal becoming the first star and stripe representative to win the gold medal individually in an under 20 world championship . The disappointment experienced in Lahti motivated him day after day, training after training, to reach the goal he had set himself three years ago at his first appearance at the World Championships. For him it was the right closing of the circle.
The twenty year old American at the end of the classic 10 km in Oberwiesenthal in tears underlined it to the local newspaper Anchorage Daily News : " Winning the Junior World Championships has been my explicit goal in the last three years, but essentially it is the perfect conclusion of what I have done in the last ten years. Being the first American who puts individual gold around his neck is a dream come true. I imagined who knows how many times in my head this goal, to believe it day after day. For this I thank who he has worked with me in Alaska, especially my coach Jan Buron who has chased me over the past ten years. "
Just his Alaska Winter Star coach in Anchorage , Jan Buron explains how they prepared the 10km of Oberwiesenthal and their race strategy for the whole season :“I will win the Juniors World Cup! This has been his goal all year round. The previous season he had lost it by seven tenths to finish fourth. But that's also sport. After this you have to go home, think about what you can do to do better the following year and train hard. And on March 2nd in the 10 kilometers in classic look what happened. We had a long chat before the race. I know Gus very well and I know how hard he can push on skis. We have agreed to start at level 3.5 and be patient in the first few kilometers. I told him, Gus you have to stay at the beginning, not be at your best in the first two / three kilometers and in fact at the first intermediate he was fourth with four seconds late from the German Moch. We have done this hundreds of times in training, starting at level 3.5 and then pushing hard in the final kilometers. He knows his body well. After the second intermediate he was almost ten seconds behind the German, from there he increased the pace and as planned, in the last two kilometers Gus inflicted more than ten seconds on him. We have worked hard on this. You can go to fourth place four times and nobody will ever remember you. He has trained a lot in these years. Gus is very constant. Look at his results from the past five years. " in the last two kilometers Gus has inflicted more than ten seconds on him. We have worked hard on this. You can go to fourth place four times and nobody will ever remember you. He has trained a lot in these years. Gus is very constant. Look at his results from the past five years. " in the last two kilometers Gus has inflicted more than ten seconds on him. We have worked hard on this. You can go to fourth place four times and nobody will ever remember you. He has trained a lot in these years. Gus is very constant. Look at his results from the past five years. "
August "Gus" Schumacher was born in Anchorage, Alaska on July 25, 2000 , joining the ski club in the most populous city of the 49th US federated state at the age of eight. At that moment the happy partnership between Gus and his current coach Jan Buron began.
The 56-year-old coach, who also coached in Poland from 1988 to 1993 before returning to Alaska to the local Sports Academy before founding Alaska Winter Sports in 1997, best describes his pupil: "Gus is a really good guy, very polite and always kind to teammates. He is very mature for his age. I really like the conversations I have with him on politics, on the history of sport etc. When not competing, Gus spends time taking long walks in nature on skis and in summer he has fun with motocross or surfing, and also volunteers in our club. When he started training in our group, all the other older members of the group immediately had fun with his company. He was a little lower than other peers at the time, but very concentrated and determined in training. He always had his goals and clear dreams in mind. After just two, three years with us his technique was much better than the boys his age or older than him. "
Frequendando to Anchorage the Service High School , August, "Gus" was repeatedly regional state champion in Nordic skiing on all distances and later won several times even national titles at the level juniors .
Of those first years of collaboration coach Jan tells us a nice anecdote that however well describes the extraordinary desire of Alaskan native to be the best:“I have been his coach since the age of eight and sometimes we also competed against during the regional garette. When he was twelve, Gus was smaller than his teammates but he was already skiing really well. My companions in the masters category and I were in great shape at the time. We expected to arrive in front of him or at least with him, but none of this happened. In the first part he didn't push hard but then he made us eat the dust by detaching everyone in the second part. He defeated us all and one of my companions wondered "Wow, who is that kid who sowed all of us masters that way? ". Gus has always been super competitive, he didn't want to lose against anyone else, every day, every minute, every workout. The most difficult thing I had to do with Gus was to make him understand how to lose. When you are not afraid of losing, then you can only win. And teaching this guy to an infinite talent is a difficult thing to do. "
Internationally, after the good results obtained in Orkdal in Norway in the Nordic Games, Schumacher makes his debut in the 2018 Junior World Championships in Goms . After fifteenth place individually in skiathlon, Gus leads his team to the silver medal in the relay. With an overflowing last fraction the then eighteen-year-old cross-country skier takes Team USA from fourth place to a historic silver just two seconds from Norway . The following season, said of the fourth place in the 30km in alternate obtained in Lahti, Gus with his companions Luke Jager ,Ben Ogden and Johnny Hagenbuch take Russia away in the final and lead the American relay to a historic success in the 2019 Junior World Championships.
These excellent results earned him the nomination for the Quebec City Fis Finals last March . At nineteen he made his debut in the bottom of the greats. In the opening sprint he does not pass the qualifying. The following day he finished fifty-sixth in the 15km with the start in line, but on the third day in the chase he scored an excellent forty-first time just one minute and thirty from the winner of the day the Canadian Harvey , on the occasion of his last World Cup race .
The rest of his young career is recent history, with the two gold medals obtained in early March in Oberwiesenthal . The much desired individual gold in the 10 km classic has arrived, and to this triumph, "Gus" still accompanied by his faithful companions Luke, Ben and Johnny, has coupled this time without worries the "back to back gold medal" for the relay made in USA .
Two historical golds that now place the alaskan guy as one of the most promising prospects for cross-country skiing in the world. The only small concern for him was the disappointment of the cancellation of the World Cup stage in Minneapolis which deprived him of the pleasure of competing on American territory.
Coach Buron is confident of the competitive future of his pupil, now a student at Anchorage University : “These successes at the Junior level will help him to be one of the best at the elite level in the next two or three years. I have no doubt about this. I think people will see that Gus is a cross-country skier that we have to focus on. I think he has a great engine, enormous skiing talent and great power. Gus loves to train very hard. He loves our sport. And Gus has big dreams! "
Speaking of dreams, Jan Buron concludes our conversation with his final thought. A motto that he teaches to his boys in Anchorage and that August "Gus" Schumacher has understood well since he was eight: "You have to train, but also to dream. If you don't have dreams it's hard to train. "