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What Does it Take to be the Best?

April 11, 2016

What Does it Take to be the Best?

“For me, my hard work, focus and sacrifice were 100% every day.”

by Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching

While visiting my parents a few weeks ago, my Mom asked me to clean some of my old stuff from the closet. I found many notebooks of old training logs, on snow training plans, workout ideas, and more training logs. As a ski racer, I keep amazing track of my daily workouts, training, goals, etc. Notebooks and notebooks of training logs.

I also found an old speech I had given when I was 18 years old. My former ski coach asked me to come talk to the younger kids about how I made it to the US ski team and then onto race in the World Cup. I thought this was a great idea for a speech because I had never had anyone ask how I made it to the US ski team. And what should a person do to make it to the US Ski Team?

Although this speech is directed toward ski racing, it is very applicable to bike racing and to sports in general. I liked it so much, that I wanted to share it.

Here is that speech.

How did I make it onto the US ski team and on to race in the World Cup? Now that I think about it, I knew all along what it took to make the US ski team. And what it takes to race the World Cup and what it takes to win a World Cup. And, all of you know what it is too.

So what is it? What do I know that I knew then? To be a fast ski racer and to have the kind of success I had or even more success, it takes a lot of hard work, focus, sacrifice, and talent. No big surprise, is it?

For me, my hard work, focus, and sacrifice were 100% every day. There was no half assing it or kind of doing it. 100%. All the time.

Ski racing is you, the clock, and the course. If you have not put in your time before that moment, you won’t be going fast. It’s you that races, it’s you that trains, it’s you that works hard on and off the snow. It’s you that does everything. You have to do it yourself and you have to do it yourself. Your coaches can only do so much. Your parents can only do so much. Your teammates can only do so much. At the end of the day, it’s you who has to work for yourself and your dreams.

Hard work, focus, and sacrifice. Anyone can do it, but only the strong ones go through with it.

I wanted so badly to make the US Ski Team and to race in the Olympics that everything I did revolved around ski racing. If something was somehow going to get in the way of racing or training I was not going to do it.

Focus. I was extremely focused on the hill while training. If a coach told me to keep my hands up and forward, then I was working on my hands up and forward while skiing to the corse, on the course, and from the course to the lift. Once on the chair lift, I visualized myself skiing with my hands up and forward.

I also had unbelievable support. Support from my coaches at Winter Park Ski Area, support from my parents, and from my family. A person cannot be successful in sport if they are not 100% supported by family, friends, and coaches.

So pretty much, here is my message. I you want to be a world-class ski racer do everything possible to be one. No half assed tries. Full bore ski racing. If you’re not on the podium today, it doesn’t really matter. But it does mean, you will have to work harder than the ones who are on the podium. But believer me, it’s worth it. As you start beating the ones on the podium now, it feels good. You’re hard work will pay off.

If you are on the podium today, your opportunities in ski racing could be amazing. Do not slack off and let your talent pass you by. Work hard, keep working hard, and represent. Because if you don’t, you’ll be passed and beaten by people like me, who were not on the podium today. And they’ll be sticking their tongues out at you.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Alison Powers

Alison Powers only recently retired from cycling, finishing her final season on the UnitedHealthcare Women’s Team. Her career has spanned a wide array of wins, including the 2013 USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship where she won in memorable fashion by soloing after an early breakaway that obliterated the pro women’s peloton. Other standout results during the 33-year-old’s 2013 season include the win at Redlands Bicycle Classic, second at the Tour of Elk Grove, third at the US National Road Championship and the US National Time Trial Championship, and stage wins at Cascade Classic, Tulsa Tough, Tour of the Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic. Hailing from Fraser, Colorado, Powers has been racing bikes professionally for eight years and is a true athlete with her career beginning as a teenager in mountain bike racing. In her mid 20s, she added in alpine ski racing before switching over to the road. In addition to being the current Criterium National Champion, Powers has two other national championships (Time Trial, Team Pursuit) and 2 NRC titles (2009, 2013).

About ALP Cycles Coaching

ALP Cycles Coaching is located in the mountains of Colorado, and is a cycling coaching company with over 25 years of professional sports experience. ALP Cycles Coaching is unique in that we have 4 coaches, Alison Powers, Jennifer Triplett, and Patricia Schwager who each brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. We work together to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Visit them online at

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