A Michiana native is headed to the Olympic Games in Sochi.
29 year old Michael Naperalsky will be coaching—not competing.
“I’d never skied a day in my life until I joined the ski team and then I had to learn,” Naperalsky said.
Naperalski is a 2002 graduate of Mishawaka Marian High School who took a job as a strength and conditioning coach with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association about three and a half years ago.
“I’m a self-declared nerd so I really like the science behind it, I like learning more stuff,” Naperalsky said.
Naperalsky now makes a living by telling U.S. Olympic Ski Team hopefuls how to exercise and what to eat.
“Sometimes you’re really strong but you really need more power, sometimes you’re really fit but you’re not all that strong. Sometimes you’re fit and powerful but they don’t know how to eat or sleep or how to balance it all when they go on the road and travel.”
Naperalsky works with ski team members who range in age from 15 to 36. His advice on fitness often varies, although the goal is pretty much the same.
“Well our success is measured in tenths of a point or hundredths of a second so we have to be one percent better, two percent better, five percent better than last year,” said Naperalsky. “Our best part of the day is when we see an athlete do something they didn’t think was possible. They jumped over a hurdle that was too tall before, they squatted a weight that was too heavy, or they went from the C team to the A team.”
Naperalsky will leave for the 2014 Olympics at the end of next month. This weekend, he will head to Utah where the ski jump team will hold its trials. The competition will air this Sunday on WNDU-TV at 1:30 p.m.
Naperalsky won’t be the only Hoosier on the ski team roster. Nick Goepper has locked up a spot. Goepper is a freestyle skier from Lawrenceberg, Indiana.