Everyone always says, find something you love to do, and then find a way to make a living doing it. Well, John “Dave” Jarrett, coach of the US Nordic Combined team certainly took that advice to heart.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Dave briefly last week and heard about his incredible journey from an avid ski jumper to a two-time Olympian and Olympic head coach. Read on to hear more about how he made his passion his career.

Dave grew up in the mountains of Colorado and discovered his love of ski jumping at an early age. In 1994, at the age of 23, he competed in his first Olympics, taking home a seventh-place finish in the 3x10km team event. After his second Olympics in 1998, Dave retired from Olympic competition to pursue a degree in Kinesiology and Physiology from the University of Colorado Boulder. However, skiing was his true calling and he returned to the US Ski team in 2002, working his way up to the head coach position in just six years. Dave’s unmatched passion and dedication has led the Nordic Combined team to 4 Olympic medals (1 Gold and 3 Silver) as well as 7 FIS World Championship medals (4 Gold, 1 Silver, and 2 Bronze).

Which was your favorite Olympic experience? 

The ’94 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway were awesome. Norwegian winter fans are the best in the world. There were thousands and thousands of fans camping in the forest along the trail.  It was a great turnout, with such a great vibe from the fans. That being said, the Olympics in Salt Lake were also pretty neat, considering we had the home court advantage. It was a standout year in terms of results which helps make it one of the best in my memory. Vancouver was another incredible venue; it felt like we had the home-court advantage without the home-court pressure.

What was your impression of the Sochi Olympics? Were the facilities as bad as Jimmy Kimmel made them seem?

Honestly, the location could have been better for a Winter games, but we enjoyed the venues for the cross country events. We decided not stay in the Olympic Village, and instead book a hotel near our venue to concentrate on our events. The accommodations were nice enough, but the hotel was still under construction during our stay.  They seemed to be adding new rooms every day, and filling them just as fast with guests.

What’s the cross-training/off-season like for the US Nordic Combined team?

Our team does a lot of roller-skiing, cycling (both road and mountain), running, and lots of racing as well. There isn’t an off-season, though, really. Competitions start in November and go straight through March, with a few races every weekend. The summer and fall is when you need to get all the training and preparation done, because by the time the season comes around there isn’t much time for training. So, our ‘off-season’ training starts April 1st.

 What is your favorite hobby to do when you are not skiing?

I enjoy both road and mountain biking. I love to golf. I also love soccer, and have coached a few different soccer teams in my free time.

Tell us more about your work consulting and training other teams.

I wanted to apply what I learned from my degrees in Kinesiology and Physiology. So many athletes take what their coaches tell them for fact, but do not understand the reasoning behind the drills, or training methods. I try to give them the science behind their training. I do this with our ski team, cycling, and even the U-12 soccer teams I’ve coached. I really enjoy consulting opportunities in these other sports, as the same fundamentals that I use for our Nordic Combined team can transfer to several different sports.

What’s ahead for the ski team? Pyeongchang, South Korea 2018?

We’re training hard and definitely looking ahead to the next Winter Games. This past year was definitely a transition period for our team and we didn’t have a great showing at Sochi. Several of our athletes had injuries and a few started families, so we’re excited to continue building our young team and expect to see much different results in 2018. We’re very excited about what this team will do in the future.

Thanks for sharing Dave! To learn more about the US Nordic Combined team and hear more about their training, visit their website.