The Strength of the Pack is the Wolf…
Jerry Wolf is the RMC ski team alpha, leading his pack with authority and knowledge.
He’s also led them to nationals for the past decade. The men won the USCSA Combined National Championship in 2005, 2007, and 2011, and the women have placed second three times.
This success doesn’t come naturally, however. Jerry and his team start training at the beginning of Fall Semester – long before the first snowfall – and build momentum, awaiting the opening of Red Lodge Mountain.
Once the powder has fallen, no one can rein them in.
“It’s about delivering their best,” he says. “They can take it to whatever level they want. The serious part comes when they realize everyone wants the same goal.”
The team strives for success, following the lead of their coach. A ski racer himself in college, Wolf uses his own experiences to direct his coaching.
“The camaraderie, being part of the team and the whole college experience was so great,” he says. “I want my athletes to have that. I recruit superior athletes, so I owe them a lot when they say yes; I owe them whatever I can give them to be better, stronger, faster, to have a great experience, and, bottom line, a great education.”
While at RMC, the team becomes a family, focusing on the same athletic goals. But in their spare time, they join together as well. Jerry often invites them to his ranch for a barbecue, and some members have worked alongside him building custom homes for his construction business.
“We bond as a team, work out as a group, and have some fun,” Jerry says. “I have lifetime friendships with my athletes. It’s nice to watch them grow and develop and then to follow them as they move on in life.”
…and the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack
Because of the care he puts into his team, the RMC ski-alpha earns respect from his racers. Respect, and a cool nickname.
‘Wolfy’ inspires the team with his devotion to their success.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed Coach throughout the years, and I’ve never met a person willing to do so much for his athletes,” Harald Carlsson, a senior from Karlstad, Sweden, says. “It is really respectable, and the way he gives back to his athletes shows how much he cares about us and makes us want to give back in turn.”
Seniors Olle Friberg of Undersaker, Sweden, and Johnathan Diem of Cascade, Idaho, appreciate Jerry’s relaxed, family environment.
“One thing I can say about Jerry is that he loves us like his own kids,” Johnathan says. “Every year he helps us move into our dorms, takes us out on the lake, and really team-builds. Whatever we need, he is there to help us.”
For Olle, being welcomed into the ski family fold was a relief. More than 4,000 miles from home, he wanted support at RMC.
“Wolfy became an extra dad,” Olle says. “I know I can always call him and he will be there for me. That’s been a really good asset and good security. It’s made it easier to focus on school and skiing because anything I need, or need help with, he is there to fix.”
Olle hadn’t always planned on attending college, but after visiting friends that attended RMC, he decided to apply.
“It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made,” he says. “Skiing, school, making connections, knowing more people, and the diversity of the people you meet is great. They have given me different views than I might have had, and it’s helped me a lot in how I’m going to interact in the community when I move beyond RMC.”
Also from Sweden, Harald found RMC in a much different way than Olle. He hired a firm to find an American college that could provide an experience learning a new language and culture.
“It’s been really beneficial,” Harald says. “For me, it has been the experience of a lifetime. I’m incredibly happy I came to RMC.”
Harald found the American college experience positive – on and off the slopes.
“Coming to RMC was so good because of the closeness with the teachers, the people, and the community,” he says. “If there is anything college is about, it’s about growth and developing yourself as a person, as an athlete, and as an academic scholar. RMC has provided me all of that.”
The desire for a challenge, academically and athletically, is something all three seniors shared. Johnathan was offered the opportunity to ski and train with RMC’s team for a few days as a high school student. Seeing the level the team trained at helped him make a decision.
“I liked the team members,” he says, “and they were fast – the best team at the race. I came for a campus visit and that sealed the deal. I was looking at schools of similar size, but I wanted to be part of a ski team that was competitive. I got that at RMC.”
Johnathan, Harald, and Olle experienced the highlight their RMC ski racing careers when the team won the 2011 National Championships.
“Freshman year, we were all sitting at orientation – the first days when I met Johnathan, Harald, and the other guys in my year – and we were all saying we wanted a national championship title,” Olle says. “Last year, being able to accomplish that goal was fantastic.”
Although Harald didn’t place quite as high in the overall rankings last year, his performance at nationals pushed the team to the top.
“I was happy catering to the team and making sure I was putting consistent results on the board,” he says. “I was skiing to have fun and was more relaxed – that’s really the core to our success."
Winning nationals, however, is just one of many highlights.
“My freshman year at regionals, we raced under the lights during a night race, and I started 86th and ended up 7th, “ Johnathan says. “Last year [at regionals], it was the same situation – I started almost 90th and ended up 6th or 7th. Those experiences have been major highlights for me.”
These racers have achieved off the slopes as well.
Graduating in May, Olle, a business management major, and Harald, double majoring in business management and managerial accounting, will both stay in America on 14-month work visas that allow them to work anywhere in the field they have been studying.
Johnathan, finishing up undergraduate work in business management and managerial accounting this year, will stay at RMC one more year to complete the master's of accountancy program.
Spending time together during training, class, and free hours, Harald, Olle, and Johnathan found more than they expected at RMC: educational opportunities, connections and competitors, and cultural experiences.
“We’ve got a tightly knit family on the ski team and a much more tightly knit school,” Johnathan says. “We’ve all been able to do so many things, not just skiing. I’m going to leave here, and I don’t have enough room on a piece of paper to cover all the opportunities I’ve been allowed to be a part of. It’s easy to do all these things at RMC. Every day there seems to be a new opportunity.”
That success all stems back to Wolfy’s pledge, and his coaching philosophy isn’t a secret. He keeps a quote on his door, reminding his team of his commitment: “If your athletes don’t know that you care about them as people, they won’t care what you know about the sport.”