USA Pears is an official sponsor of cross country athlete and Olympian Torin Koos. Torin, a native resident of Leavenworth, Washington, grew up in the heart of pear country. As a professional athlete, good nutrition is integral to his success and pears are a key part of his diet. Follow Torin around the world as he trains, competes, and helps to teach others about good nutrition as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Visit www.usapears.org and cheer on Torin throughout the season!
Visit the links on the left to learn more about Torin's recent successes, see photos from his travels, and discover his favorite post-race meals!
Q & A with Torin Koos
You’ve been cross-country skiing since you could walk, and knew by the time you were in kindergarten that your dream was to make it to the Olympics. To what do you credit your love for the sport and Olympic dreams?
From the earliest of days I’ve been kinetically-inspired. I’ve always found the intrigue in the movement and challenge of sport. And the sport of skiing presents quite a challenge. There is no perfect way to ski. The terrain is constantly changing; the snow we ski on is always changing, sometimes from one section of the course to another. The body is an organism that undergoes peaks and valleys in reaction to both positive and negative stress. The best skiers are the ones who are most inspiring, who bring the best preparation and who best attack the course on the big day. From an early age I’ve been intrigued by this challenge.
And the Olympics, what can I say? It’s the festival of sport powerful enough to unite the world. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
How would you describe your sport and events to someone who’s never cross-country skied before?
Forget the antiquated idea of knickered skiers shuffle-striding across the snow. Cross-country skiers are rugged, strong and fast. Cross country ski racing is a kind of NASCAR on toothpicks. We rocket through twisty downhills at speeds approaching fifty miles an hour, then get our lungs and endurance in on the act and climb back up the hills as fast - and as efficiently - as we can.
What does your current training regime consist of? Do you train alone, with a team, or both?
My year contains a mixture of both. When I’m at training camps with the National Team I make it a priority to train with other top-level American athletes. Most days, though, it’s just me or my training compatriot Lars Flora getting in the hours, perfecting the technique and keeping the stoke for living the ski racing and training lifestyle high.
What are some of the ways you mentally prepare for a race?
In both sport and in art there I see a lot of similarities. To me, an artist is someone who is a competent practitioner of an art. A basic expectation for an artist is for them to seek after the principle of perfection. Racing is my opportunity to show how close I am to attaining perfection within the sport of skiing.
What does your diet consist of when you’re training?
My metabolism runs pretty high. Every day I put down about 4,000 calories. When shopping, I load up on whole grains and produce. I stay away from the freezer aisle. That place will get you every time.
Can you provide some words of wisdom for someone who hasn’t been very physically active, or they want to improve their nutrition habits?
Few things in life are better than the free air lifestyle. By this I mean being outside, enjoying clean air and healthy living. Find an activity you enjoy and stick with it, that'd be my advice. Then, of course, have a Bartlett with your morning coffee.
You grew up in Leavenworth, Washington, the heart of one of the biggest pear-growing regions in the world. Do you think that has encouraged you to incorporate fresh fruit into your diet?
Absolutely. I grew up skiing beside pear trees at Leavenworth’s Ski Hill. In the summer I ran through pear orchards and earned my summer wages selling cherries, apples, peaches and pears at the local fruit stand, Smallwood’s Harvest.
Just like the Swiss need great chocolate to end a meal, I just need some fresh fruit. If it’s fruit dipped in chocolate or a pear grazed by a culinary master, that’s fine with me, too.
What does being an Olympic athlete mean to you?
The Olympic ideals, the Olympic movement are sports at its finest. People competing for their hometowns, their country, family and friends and for themselves. Nothing else. Olympians don't receive any monetary compensation for making it through the trials or the Olympics themselves. Some like Michelle Kwan can parlay their Olympic exposure to 6 or 7 figure deals, but for the most part, the Olympians you see representing USA are hardworking, blue collar guys and gals who compete for the love of the sport, and see the Olympics as the event where they can put their skills on display for a world audience.
USA Pears has been your headgear sponsor for the last several years. Do you find that people are surprised that you have a fruit as a sponsor? What do you tell people about USA Pears?
I get asked all the time about my pear partnership. People back home see me racing with the USA Pears logo on my race hat and know I still true to my roots. The skiers in Europe love it. On the World Cup ski circuit I’m known as “The Cowboy.” Something must be lost in translation there – my roots are much closer to being an orchardist than riding horses, fixing fences, and herding livestock – but I’ll roll with it.
In the U.S. the other racers know how hard it is to find a sponsor with you for the long haul to help keep you on the Olympic path. In cross-country skiing we have to train big hours, rest lots, and the race day paydays are few and far between. My association with USA Pears helped me have the support and racing opportunities to make the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. I look forward to helping reward them - and myself – again by representing the U.S.A. in 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Finally, the question we’re all dying to know, what do you like to eat before a big competition?!
My go-to pre-race dinner consists of a plate of potato gnocchi piled high, covered in bolognese sauce. Before the gnocchi I load up on a spinach salad topped with caramelized pecans, crumpled Saint Agur cheese and finally the coup de grace – thin slivers of locally grown Yellow Bartlett pear. I also pull this edible aperitif out when trying to impress a certain someone with my culinary skills.
The morning of the race continues with a similar theme from the pre-race night meal. That is, good food that’s also high in carbohydrates and easy to digest. I finish up a big bowl of oatmeal, topped with brown sugar and slices of Green Anjou three hours before race time. Works like a charm.