As one of skiing’s most consistent pros, Team GOODE member Karen Truelove is no stranger to the upper echelons of Women’s slalom. In fact, since the IWSF Elite rankings list began in 2002, Karen hasn’t finished a year ranked outside the top four.
With the American pro schedule getting ready to kick off next month with one of her favorite tournaments – the U.S. Masters – we caught up with Karen to discuss what she has on tap for 2012, how her training is impacted by being married to the world’s best jumper, and whether life as a professional athlete has changed with motherhood.
What are your goals for the 2012 pro season?
Karen: I did not have a very consistent 2011 season. I started out pretty strong with a Moomba win and runner-up finish at the U.S. Masters, but by the end of the summer I had some of the worst finishes that I have had in awhile. I have made some changes in my approach to my training and am really concentrating on what works for me.
You’ve been invited to the 2012 Masters, which is a tournament you’ve had success at including a title in 2005 and a number of top-three finishes. What’s your approach as you head into the final weeks of pre-Masters preparation?
Karen: I love the Masters! I always go into that tournament knowing that the competition is going to be high and I want to be at my best. I may not always reach that point, but anything can happen on Robin Lake. Once the tournament starts, it’s anyone’s game. I just try to work on being strong on my ski and try to be ready to ski in challenging conditions.
You’ve been a pro since the late 90s. How does that amount of experience give you an edge over some of your younger competitors who don’t have as much experience under their belts?
Karen: Sometimes I don’t know that it’s an advantage. The sport has changed so much in the last 10 years – with equipment, boats, cruise control – that it almost feels new to me a lot of times. In many ways, there’s been a lot of “starting over.” I do think that because of all my years of skiing professionally that I am starting to understand and realize what works best for me. That’s the main advantage that I see.
Right now the world record stands at 2 buoys at 41-feet off, a mark first set by your fellow Team GOODE member Regina Jaquess … how far can it go?
Karen: I think there are definitely a few more turns to be made! We are seeing a rise in scores from both men and women and that’s just the way sports go. There are peaks and lulls. I think a lot of it has to do with innovations in skis, speed control, smaller wakes, and a better understanding of technique.
Everyone knows your husband Freddy Krueger as one of the best jumpers ever, but not as many know that he has a strong three-event background. How much does he help you with slalom coaching?
Karen: Unfortunately, Freddy isn’t hitting the slalom much these days; life is just too full for us. But because he does have background in slalom skiing he tends to understand things pretty well. It all comes down to knowing the basics anyway. Naturally, he relates to his jumping first and that’s OK by me because sometimes I understand it better when we do talk about it in reference to jumping. That’s what I see the most in our daily training and it gives me my own perspective on how to translate it into slalom.
And you’ve jumped on the professional level in the past as well, so do you coach him a lot?
Karen: Yes, every day. We work really well together. Freddy can coach himself but I am just there to help “clean things” up every now and then. You’ve got to have that one person who knows what you do at your best and can help you get there.
Your son Dash was born in 2009. How much has becoming a parent changed your life as a professional athlete?
Karen: It has changed things tremendously!! I have such respect for athletes who are also parents. You don’t know until you go through it, but it takes so much juggling to get everything accomplished.
I could not do it without our parents’ support. Time is a serious commodity now and we have to really be diligent with our training schedule. It’s easy to not get the recovery time that you need and that has been a big learning curve for us. It’s all trial and error but so far we have been really fortunate. We love being parents and wouldn’t trade it for the world!