Meet the Up-and-Comers: Duffy + Arvidsson

Courtney Harkins
2015-07-20 16:13

Drew Duffy and Erik Arvidsson are two promising up-and-coming athletes on the U.S. Ski Team. Both started racing as kids and have gone on to build résumés that most junior racers only dream about. 20-year-old Duffy skied at Mad River Glen, starting his race career there at 9 years old, before heading to Sugarbush to attend Green Mountain Valley School (GMVS). On the other end of the country, 18-year-old Arvidsson grew up skiing on the Bear Valley Ski Education Foundation weekend ski program. When he was 13, he headed to Squaw Valley and raced there for five seasons before making the team.

The guys started breaking out in the 2014-15 season—Arvidsson turned heads when he won the NorAm combined title and a NorAm super G. Duffy beat out World Cup stars like Steven Nyman and Travis Ganong for the U.S. Alpine Champs super G title.

The season was not without its trials, though. Two of their team members and best friends, Bryce Astle and Ronnie Berlack, passed away in an avalanche in January. Arvidsson and Duffy were skiing with them that day, which they both say was one of the hardest days of their life. But both credit Astle and Berlack with their success and think about them all the time. Duffy is even riding Berlack’s mountain bike.

This season, Arvidsson and Duffy are on the C Team and they’re stoked. We sat down with the two guys and in between laughs and endless inside jokes, they talked about their tumultuous first meeting, their goals for the season, ski racing heroes and how tight their team really is.

Drew Duffy stands on the top of the podium at the 2015 U.S. Alpine Championships super G.

U.S. SKI TEAM: How did you guys meet?
ARVIDSSON: When I was a first year at J2 Nationals, I won slalom and combined. Drew didn’t go.

DUFFY: I thought I was better than that. [laughs]

ARVIDSSON: At J2 Nationals, you win a big honking belt buckle. Drew’s brother’s Danny won it two years before. It was spring series and I thought I was way too cool for school, wearing mine around. I walked up to Danny and was like, ‘Hey Danny! Nice belt buckle. Drew, where’s yours? Bet you wish you had one!” We had never met before. 

DUFFY: Yep. We became friends after that.

U.S. SKI TEAM: Your team is really tight-knit. Tell us about that.
ARVIDSSON: We have a really good group. We had a really good group. It’s awesome now, but it was more awesome before [January’s avalanche]. I’ve never been a part of a team that’s so close. Last summer was so cool. The D Team went from a bunch of kids that had never been relevant on the NorAm stage to winning. We were hammering. We bonded as group—pushing each other so hard in the gym and out of it. The training was insane. Even Ronnie [Berlack] was becoming a slalom skier. Everyone was skiing so strong.

DUFFY: Ronnie wouldn’t have skied slalom if he had the choice.

ARVIDSSON: But we all gave him grief about it. He was an athlete on skis. He really focused on his tuck and his gliding. It was super cool.

ARVIDSSON: We were on fire. Now we have some new teammates—and we like what they’re bringing to the table. Drew, Addison [Dvoracek] and I are really close, but the new guys are sweet. Shout out to PK [Patrick Kenney] and River [Radamus].

Erik Arvidsson shreds at Squaw Valley, his home mountain.

U.S. SKI TEAM: Biggest ski racing heroes on the Team?
DUFFY: It’s cliché, but Bode. I’m going to say Nyman, too. He’s just such a hard worker and really pushes it. He’s an example of someone we see in the gym and you know how hard he works to get where he wants to be. I also admire Ryan Cochran-Siegle—he’s younger, from the East Coast, like me—and Brennan Rubie. I have Brennan Rubie’s 2013 World Cup run on my computer and I watch that every single super G race. I also have a pair of his skis.

ARVIDSSON: Marco [Sullivan] because he’s from Squaw. He’s a legend. His uncle was our program director for a really long time and is the reason there are so many Squaw athletes on our team right now. They’re some of the best-hearted, smartest ski racing minds

Willy B [Will Brandenburg], too. He trained with us last summer in La Parva, Chile. He became our mentor. He was a real brother, especially after [the avalanche in] January. After it happened, he drove eight hours from Zagreb in the middle of the night to come and hang out with us. He sent me and Addison a message and said, “Just say the word and I’ll be there.” We said the word and he got up at 3 a.m. and drove. All of us C Team boys want to be like Willy B when we get older.

Erik Arvidsson smiles with coach Justin Johnson.

U.S. SKI TEAM: If you weren’t ski racing, what would you be doing?
ARVIDSSON: I’d be a wide receiver for the Cal Golden Bears on my way to a first round NFL draft pick. That was my goal my whole life. My parents weren’t that into it, and I played one year and got hurt. Skiing was too important. Cal football is really important in my life. Go Bears!

DUFFY: I would have graduated in Massachusetts and gone to Boston College. I’d probably want to play football and basketball. Both Erik and I deferred from Middlebury College, so I keep joking about walking on to their football team.

U.S. SKI TEAM: What do you want to do when you’re done with ski racing?
DUFFY: I want to ski race for quite some time. My mom would kill me if I said coach. But for a stint, I’d want to coach. After that, I don’t know! The options are endless.

ARVIDSSON: I want to live in the Bay Area and work in the tech industry or venture capital. I want to work with new things—new ideas and new companies.

Erik Arvidsson (left) and Drew Duffy (right) pose with U.S. Ski Team mascot Champ.

U.S. SKI TEAM: What are your goals for this season?
ARVIDSSON: Medals. We’re going to Russia and are going to bring back medals. Sochi 2016, bro. The World Juniors this year is in Sochi, so the real road to Sochi starts now. The Olympics were just a warm up. [laughs]

I also really want to win a NorAm discipline title. And start a World Cup.

DUFFY: I want to win a super G NorAm Title and be in there in the downhill. And hopefully start a World Cup. A World Juniors medal would also be cool. And of course, backing up my U.S. Nationals win. I’m going for another one.

Follow Drew Duffy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and Erik Arvidsson on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to keep up with them throughout the season.


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