Nick Michaud (middle) poses with Crosscut Elite Athletes Hannah Cole and Ruslan Reiter.
Nick Michaud decided to make a career change last year, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next other than work with people in some way.
Michaud, 28, retired from professional Nordic skiing after narrowly missing a chance to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
He became interested when his mentor, Eileen Carey, offered him an opportunity to coach U.S. Para Nordic skiers. Carey, director of U.S. Paralympics Nordic Skiing, was one of Michaud’s first coaches when he got into skiing as a teenager.
“I wish that every coach had the opportunity to work with adaptive athletes because it forces you to take on a coaching philosophy that is humble,” Michaud said. “It allows you to understand that everyone is different, everybody has different needs, and it allows you to more creatively figure out how to help the person get to where they’re trying to go.”
Michaud has spent the past year making the transition to coaching. He works with skiers with a wide range of physical impairments — including vision loss, spinal cord injuries and limb impairments — as the U.S. development team coach.
In addition, Michaud serves as the elite team assistant coach at Crosscut Mountain Sports Center, which is a year-round recreation and sports training facility near Bozeman, Montana, that seeks to make skiing and biathlon more accessible to everyone. The elite team has Olympic and Paralympic athletes as Para athletes are integrated into their day to day program alongside their Olympic counterparts.
The center provides a place for both novices to ski and Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to train.
“I shifted gears, and now I get to work with a bunch of athletes that are trying to perform well at the (Winter Olympic and Paralympic) Games,” Michaud said. “And so I have an opportunity to take my wealth of experience and all that I’ve been learning with both of these programs and staffs and athletes to help a lot more people perform well at that time.”
Michaud admitted his transition to coaching hasn’t been easy. Making it more challenging, he’s coaching Para Nordic skiers who have impairments that he doesn’t have and never had to overcome during his pro skiing career.