Lalive Carmichael taking over Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Alpine program
July 9, 2014
Steamboat Springs — Coaching came naturally, Caroline Lalive Carmichael said, but considering her career on Wednesday, she said she wished she'd known in her life as a ski racer what she now has picked up as a coach.
"You see from a different perspective," she said. "I see aspects of the sport I'd fret over that weren't such a big deal and parts I didn't put enough energy toward that seem much more important."
A 13-year veteran of the U.S. Ski Team, four times a member of a World Championship team and three times a competitor in the Olympics, the Steamboat Springs skier is taking over the director of the Alpine program at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
There, she hopes to impart some of the lessons she learned in her illustrious career and a few she's picked up in the years since.
"We've been building and gaining momentum. We want to continue to build on that," Lalive Carmichael said. "I want to bring my own sense of direction and my own personal stamp to the program."
Like her predecessor, Olympic gold medalist Deb Armstrong, Lalive Carmichael has woven herself tightly into Steamboat's Ski Town USA lore thanks to an outstanding competitive career.
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She didn't rush to fill the role but said she only decided to apply after careful consideration.
"She really embraced the opportunity," Winter Sports Club Director Jim Boyne said. "She brought a lot of passion to her interview. We looked at a lot of people, a lot of good candidates, and we think she's uniquely suited for this and will do a terrific job."
Lalive Carmichael was born in California and came to Steamboat Springs as a 16-year-old with her family, the town winning out over several others thanks to what her parents saw as a combination of skiing opportunity and education excellence.
She didn't linger long in town, however. She spent two seasons training in the Winter Sports Club before she got the big promotion to the U.S. Ski Team.
As an athlete, she earned five World Cup podiums, two each in downhill and combined and one in super G.
She made the podium at national championships nine times, including two wins, and she had five Olympic starts, three in Utah in 2002 and a pair in Japan in 1998, where she earned her best finish, seventh place in combined.
She retired in 2009 but began moonlighting as a coach with the Winter Sports Club when she could squeeze in the time in 2005, and she has worked sporadically with the club in the years since.
She said helping coach a women's clinic at Steamboat Ski Area in the winters — recreation skiers, not often racers — has helped provide new perspective, and she has coached the U14 skiers with the club for two seasons and, most recently, served as the head coach for the U12 division.
"The interesting part for me was changing the expectations, so being World Cup, Olympic athlete, then working with 12- and 13-year-olds," she said. "I had to change my approach a little bit and deal with the intensity. That was definitely something I had to learn."
She said that experience working under former director Armstrong will be a benefit as she moves forward. Armstrong said the commitment of the job was a factor in her stepping down, though she's eager to continue to work with the program.
"By no means is the program broken," Lalive Carmichael said. "It's been a really successful, growing, stable program and I'm really lucky. I don't have to step in and re-create anything, but just continue the improvement."
The goal, she said, is returning the program to where she found it, nearly two decades ago, when it reigned as one of the premier Alpine skiing programs in the country. The program has struggled since those days, Lalive Carmichael being the last Olympian it has produced.
"I love ski racing and it's been my life and passion for so long," she said. "This seems like the culmination of everything I've done and loved."