In sports like basketball and football, strategy is a key aspect in gaining the edge over an opponent. Without the X's and O's, achieving results is nearly impossible.
According to Colorado freshman skier David Ketterer, however, strategy has little to do with his success in skiing.
"Skiing is not that strategic, you just try to ski as fast as possible every single run," Ketterer said. "You obviously need a vision of where you want to be in the next season, the next year and the next month, but when it comes down to racing, you should not think about the tactics."
Apparently, Ketterer's philosophy is working. In his first few months on the Colorado ski team, Ketterer has tied the school record for slalom race victories by any men's alpine skier, was invited to compete for the German National Team in the FIS World Cup in Austria, and was recently awarded the RMISA Most Valuable Skier award.
For CU head coach Richard Rokos, Ketterer's achievements are a bit of a mystery, yet also not surprising.
"He can put things together better than any other guys in the race," Rokos said. "He's obviously competitive in training, but he is not necessarily the fastest one in training rounds. However, he has a unique way to focus and recruit all of his resources in a race. He's an exceptional racer, and that's a quality not too many people have."
Ketterer, who is from Bad Dürrheim, Germany, has been skiing for about as long as he could walk. He attributes his competitive nature to growing up with brothers, and competing alongside them. After skiing all throughout high school, Ketterer progressed to ski for the German European Cup Team for four years before coming to Colorado to ski collegiately.
Being a member of the CU ski team has given Ketterer a new challenge — balancing academics and athletics. Early morning training at Eldora and classes in engineering and business later in the day can be difficult to balance, not to mention flying off to competitions on the weekends. During the first two months of the year, Ketterer not only traveled to Utah, Montana and Alaska for collegiate meets, but also to Stowe, Vt. for a NorAm Cup race, and to Austria for the FIS World Cup.
"Back home I was just doing sports, but now I am doing school and sports," Ketterer said. "It's a lot of work, but I enjoy it. I'm really happy right now."
Another change Ketterer has noticed as a college athlete is the emphasis placed on the team aspect of the sport. Though skiing is often viewed as an individual sport, the team is measured collectively. Coach Rokos has observed Ketterer's transition to the CU ski team as rather seamless.
"Besides him being 'MVP' in terms of collecting points and results, he is also a very good teammate in helping being part of the big picture," said Rokos. "They have to be mentors to each other, and David is very good at it."
Because of Ketterer's hard work in school and skiing, Rokos believes the 23-year-old has a lot to look forward to.
"The sky's the limit for him. I'm hoping in the end of his college career, he will earn his spot on the national team and keep skiing," Rokos said. "It's no better situation to have a degree in your pocket, and keep doing what you love to do — to come out of college and keep skiing. You finish your athletic career, then go use your degree. That's what I'm hoping for David."
If the next four years at CU go well, that is just what Ketterer plans to do — continue skiing, then later apply his degree. But, regardless of how his athletics turn out, he is excited to someday pursue a career in contributing to the transition to renewable energy.
But for the next month or so, Ketterer is focused on achieving one of the major goals he came to CU to achieve — helping his team bring home a NCAA title.