World Class: The Making Of the U.S. Women’s Cross-Country Ski Team

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What makes a great team?

Peggy Shinn answers this question in her enthralling account of the dramatic rise of the U.S. women’s cross-country ski team, winners of eight medals at three world championships over the past five years.

Shinn’s story—based on dozens of interviews with athletes, coaches, parents, spouses, and friends—paints a vivid picture of the obstacles that America’s female athletes must overcome not just to ski with the world’s best, but to beat them.

In a sport where U.S. women have toiled for decades, mostly in the middle or the back of the pack, the development of a world-class team attests to the heady combination of a transformational leader, a coach who connects with his athletes, the super-fast individual skiers who are also conscientious teammates—and a bit of good luck.

This is the story of Kikkan Randall, Liz Stephen, Holly Brooks, Jessie Diggins, Ida Sargent, Sadie Bjornsen, Sophie Caldwell, Rosie Brennan, and coach Matt Whitcomb—and how they created the perfect team.

Reviews / Endorsements

“A well-deserved tribute to an amazing team. Belief and perseverance coupled with an ‘athlete’s coach’ and teamwork are the key ingredients that make the magic happen.” — Bill Koch, 1976 Olympic silver medalist and 1982 overall World Cup champion in cross-country skiing

“With remarkable insight into how the women of the U.S. Ski Team have become one of the most powerful teams in the world, Shinn’s writing is filled with intimate glimpses of all the key players. A compelling read.” — Peter Graves, former racer and ten-time Olympic Games announcer

“Teamwork, resilience, creativity: these are some of the virtues that powered the U.S. women’s cross-country team to a breakthrough in a sport long dominated by other nations. Shinn’s reporting legwork and storytelling instincts immortalize the tale of these tough and innovative athletes.” — Nathaniel Vinton, author The Fall Line: America’s Rise to Ski Racing’s Summit

“An inspiring example of the strength of collective human will, positive thinking, and teamwork. For everyone, a lesson in positivity, perseverance, and being creative in turning a tide roiling against you.” — Chad Salmela, former U.S. biathlon team member, college coach, and NBC commentator

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of New England (January, 2018)

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