SYNC Staff Member + Former NCAA Athlete Rachael DesRochers chatted with SYNC Team Member Josh Nelson to learn a little bit more about his background and his goals for the season.


Hi Josh!

Hi Rachael! 

Let’s get you introduced. How old are you?

I just turned, um yeah, I just turned 18.

When was your birthday?

November 19th.

Ok, so it was kinda recent. And where are you from?

Wayzata Minnesota and I ski for Buck Hill. (It’s pronounced Why-zet-ta, classic Minnesota pronunciation)

Perfect, so since you’re from Minnesota, do you have an accent?

You tell me! 

Do you say eh? (Why eh, isn’t that a Canadian thing?)

I do not, no!

How do you pronounce bagel?

I say bag-el for sure. People say when I say, boat, or like note, that I have like a little accent or something, ya know. (Which he in fact did have an accent)

Now we know! Saying it like bag-el or past-a really makes it come through. Anyways, into some more hard hitting questions, how did you get into ski racing?

Pretty much just born into it, my whole family raced, ya know. My aunt was in the Olympics, and obviously my brother, Isaiah. And, ya, I started skiing at a young age and loved it, so just kept going with it. (Isaiah was a previous SYNC Teamer, so being on the SYNC Team and skiing runs naturally in the Nelson family.)

What’s your Aunt's name?

Tasha Nelson. (Tasha competed in the 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics and was a very good slalom skier, as most Mid-Western folks are)

Ya know I didn’t know that, that’s cool! That leads me to my next question, was there someone in your life that was influential in your early skiing?

For sure Tasha, and we also have this 96 year old coach named Erich Sailer. You probably heard the name. (If you know anything about skiing you’ve heard the name. He’s worked with Lindsey Vonn, Resi Stiegler, and Paula Moltzan among others.)

I sure have!

Yeah and he still goes up on the rope tow and still coaches!

Erich is amazing! Did you ever compete in another sport besides skiing?

Through grade school I played flag football and I ran cross country. 

Nice! Do you think those sports helped you in any way with skiing? 

Probably cross county a little bit just to get in shape for skiing and because that is a fall sport so it didn’t conflict with skiing. 

I did that when I was in middle school for the same reason!

Yeah I don’t even know why I did it. I’m not a fan of running that much.

Yeah all I experienced was pain and no so called “runners high.”

Yeah me as well. (Leads me to believe there is no such thing as a “runner's high”)

Do you have a favorite place that you like to race at?

Race, ohhh, free ski is Beaver Creek, but, race, I don’t know, I raced at Big Sky my first year FIS and that was pretty fun. 

Love it! I would have thought those two resorts would be flipped. Is there a race that you’re looking forward to this season?

Oh man, racing the FIS U’s (University Races, or as the East Coast college kids call them Carnivals), I think will be fun. I got a little taste of it last year racing a couple but this year I’ll probably do most of them. And then another fun race in Minnesota is the state high school race. It always has good energy and is fun.

If you’re racing all the FIS U’s, are you looking at any schools for college out West?

I should be! But I do plan on taking a gap year next year. (A gap year is when you graduate High School and only ski for a year before heading to college) But I do want to ski for college. 

Do you have a college in mind?

Yeah, I think I wanna ski for Denver, but, ya know, nothing is official. 

Always good to keep your options open! Do you have a favorite event?

Slalom. Big time! (He’s from Minnesota after all)

Why did you apply for the SYNC Team?

I’ve seen how cool it is, just on social media and stuff (Check out our socials because like Josh said, we are pretty cool). And when Isaiah was on it, it was awesome how much stuff he got and how you guys kinda just helped him throughout the season. So I thought why not give it a shot, and I’m really happy I did.

Good thing you gave it a shot! Do you have a favorite product from SYNC?

For sure, pretty simple, but the training shorts. Compared to anything else, you make so much better ones. I know it's pretty basic.

No, I was expecting something like a Pano jacket! Anyways, what are your goals for skiing?

Oh man, either making the National Team or going and skiing D1. I don’t know, I mean, racing a World Cup would be pretty cool.

All of those are great goals! Any tips you’d like to share with younger racers?

Don’t give up. Like I was never that fast during my U16 years. I think my first year U16 I was one of the last qualifiers for our Junior Championships. So just don’t give up and trust the process. You know, now I’m a little faster. (Ted Ligety had a similar start to his career.)

Definitely. Good advice! Do you have any highlights from racing?

Scoring a 39 at Lutsen was pretty sweet! (Lutsen, Mn, during spring series is THE place to score) Or racing my first downhill last year was pretty fun. Didn’t go too fast.

I mean if that was your first downhill I don’t blame you for going slow; downhills can be scary. 

They are, don’t recommend. And then when it dumps too. And then you’re just slipping all morning. And by the time you're ready to race your legs are exhausted from slipping. 

Ok, I have some funny questions for you. What’s your biggest ick about skiing? (For those that don’t know what an ick is its slang for a feeling of disgust)

When people train fullstrip with no bib.

Yeah you just feel so exposed.


Do you have any travel day horror stories?

You know, actually coming out to Sun Valley, just now, somehow on my boarding pass, they messed up my birthday. I don’t know how it happened but I wait in a really long line, and then I get up to the front, and they’re like your birthday is wrong. And I’m like are you kidding me? So I had to leave the line and redo my boarding pass, and then they say I’m fine. Thankfully I was able to cut the line, but then they were like your birthday is still wrong, and I’m like are you kidding me, they just changed it. And the person who changed it put in the wrong date or something but luckily I was able to get through. But our flight had been delayed and if it wasn’t, I probably would have missed it. 

Oh my goodness! Travelling is the worst. Do you have any superstitions before you race?

Brush my teeth in the morning. 

What’s something people might not know about you? Any secret hobbies?

I can unicycle, but I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for. 

No, that’s pretty cool! What’s the coldest day you’ve had training or racing?

Oh man! My first year FIS, have you heard of Spirit Mountain? 

I have, but I’ve never raced there. 

So, it’s right next to Lake Superior, and it’s always cold up there. The wind comes right from the lake so it’s freezing, at the top. I don’t know the temperature but I think with windchill it was like under 30 below. It is crazy! (I can’t even ski a 20 degree day without my heated socks)

That sounds horrible. Ok, last and most important question. Do you like pineapple on pizza?

Oh yes! I do! (That’s an ick!)

Well Josh, thank you for answering all my crazy questions and good luck this season!


Thanks for doing this Rachael, Josh and SYNC. It is always fun to hear about the athletes, their paths to ski racing. We all seem connected somehow.


— Steve Tremmel