If skiing has shown me anything, it’s that nothing important in life is ever accomplished alone. It’s taken a whole lot of people to make this book possible, just as it’s taken a whole lot of people to make ski racing possible. I find that it’s somewhat impossible to tease the two apart, so my acknowledgments are coming in as one big, happy, puppy pile of thank-yous.
I am who I am because of my family: Deb, Clay, and Mackenzie Diggins . . . and our adorable dogs over the years. Thank you for being the people I want to call first whenever anything happens in life. I am so incredibly grateful for how close we are and for all the unconditional love, hugs, support, and laughter you bring to my life. Thank you for getting me through my hardest years and for celebrating with me in the happiest moments.
Wade, I love you so much. I can’t wait to keep making you laugh and to go on camping trips all around the world with you. Thank you for putting up with all my stress while putting this book together and for helping me along the way.
To all the coaches in my life but specifically Jason Cork, Matt Whitcomb, Chris Grover, Pat O’Brien, and Kris Hansen, thank you. You coached me in skiing but also in life, and you taught me to be a better person as well as quick on skis. You are all examples of coaches who have gone above and beyond, looking to coach the human behind the results. Also, you all had to be my “ski dad or mom” at one point or another, so thanks for letting me cry on you.
To all my teammates, from MYSL days through high school to SMST2 and the national team: you are the reason I’m in this crazy sport. You motivated me from the start, made me want to show up to practice every day, laughed and celebrated the good times, and hugged me right through the hard times. Love you all, so much.
To my sponsors through the years, thank you, thank you, thank you. You allow me to pursue my biggest dreams, to be able to give back to the community that raised me, to help inspire the next generation. Your support and belief mean the world to me.
To the ski community in the Midwest, you have something truly special going on. Thank you for supporting me and cheering me on all these years . . . even when in Europe, I feel those cheers!
There are so many people I want to thank, and honestly it’s impossible to fit everyone into one book, but here are a few who have helped me immeasurably: Lauren Loberg, my sports psychologist, for years of being my brain when my own decided to go on vacation; Tschana Schiller, the most badass strength coach one could ever wish for; Susie Parker-Simmons, for helping me learn proper sports nutrition but also regain a healthy relationship to fueling once more. To all our volunteer physical therapists and massage therapists, thank you for keeping my body together when it was trying to fall apart. To our wax techs, I cannot say thank you enough; I’m convinced this is the hardest job ever, but you do it with good humor and a smile and throw down some pretty magical shit in that wax bus. We’ve had many volunteers and full-time techs over the years, but I’d like to be sure and recognize Jason Cork, Oleg Ragilo, Peter Johansson, Jean-Pascal Laurin, Tim Baucom, Andrew Morehouse, and Eli Brown for your years of being our “boys in the bus.” And a special thank you to Liz Arky for your rock-solid belief, your years of tireless support, and your mentorship.
To Jillian Lampert at The Emily Program, your expertise and research as I attempted to fill the gaps in time have been immeasurably helpful. To Angie Scott and Rasa Troup, and in loving memory of Joan Caillier, for their time, effort, unconditional support, and understanding as they saved my life, together with The Emily Program staff and brave girls in my group. You all not only saved my life in the moment when I needed it most but gave me the tools to charge forward and be excited about each and every day.
Erik Anderson, your guidance, cheering, words of wisdom, and belief in this book helped bring it to life! Thank you for all your time spent sitting late at the kitchen table, going over this darn thing line by line. Mary Keirstead, thank you for your attention to detail and for being my fantastic copy editor. Thank you to the entire team at the University of Minnesota Press—thank you for believing in us and helping me tell my story. You all had to teach me how to write a book even as I was writing it, and your patient coaching and belief made all the difference! Michael Croy of the Northstar Literary Agency and Patrick Quinn of Chicago Sports and Entertainment Partners, you both made this project a reality. Thank you for all your hard work, and, Patrick, thank you and your team for years of helping me tell my story to the world with our partners. To my fun and hardworking teammate Julia Kern, thank you for all the giggles during the sunset walks we took in New Zealand while you shot the cover image.
Finally, this book would not be in your hands if not for one Mr. Todd Smith. Todd, the moment we bonded over our shared love of Tina Fey, I knew you were the one to help me tell my story. Your hard work, endless enthusiasm, cheering when I needed it, epic writing sessions, and sense of humor made this journey a fun one, even when it was hard. Thank you for helping me bring these pages to life!
First and foremost, a huge thank you to my wife, Sarah, and son, Murphy, for their love, support, and patience throughout my life and most certainly when I’m writing. A lifetime of thanks to my parents, Gary and Linda, brother Tony, and sister Becky. A special thanks and warm Minnesota hug to Clay and Deb Diggins for graciously welcoming me into their home. A big thanks to Jason Cork of the U.S. Ski Team for all of his insight, humility, and background information. This book would not exist without all of the hard work behind the scenes done by Michael Croy of the Northstar Literary Agency and Patrick Quinn of Chicago Sports and Entertainment Partners. A huge thanks to Erik Anderson, Kristian Tvedten, and all of the staff at the University of Minnesota Press for their understanding, professionalism, deft touch, and support along the winding road from writing to editing to publication. A sincere thank you to Jillian Lampert at The Emily Program for all of her knowledge, research, and time.
I’d like to personally thank the following writers and authors for their help over the course of this project: John Branch, for his encouragement; Chris Jones, for his inspiration; Wayne Coffey, for his advice and mentorship; and Quinton Skinner, for his literary friendship. A special acknowledgment goes out to Jessie for her positivity, unbreakable work ethic, and honesty. You’re an elite athlete but an even better person, and it was a true honor for me to help give the stories of your life a home.
Finally, I recognize my loving memory of Katherine Noland and Jay Aydinalp-Mathews.