"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."
- John Quincy Adams
He was one lucky young racer. Talented for sure. And endowed with an impressive work ethic. But there are countless hard-working, talented young athletes out there who never make the grade. Rob Boyd had an ace up his sleeve though. He had someone in his corner who believed in him. And someone who could make a difference.
"When I reflect back on that time, it becomes very clear to me how fortunate I was," says Whistler Mountain Ski Club's newly appointed sport development manager. "Frankly, I'm not sure what would have happened to me as a ski racer if Glenn Wurtele hadn't taken me under his wing when he did."
We're talking 1979-80 or thereabouts. Boyd was a young teenager living in Vernon at the time. Wurtele was the coach of the B.C. Ski Team (and a resident of Vernon as well). Obviously the veteran trainer saw something he liked in the crazy-haired wild kid ripping up the local slopes. For it wasn't long before the young Boyd was invited to train with the provincial "stars" on Glen's elite team. And the rest, as they say...
Interesting too. Because from that moment on, the careers of both men became inextricably linked. "Yeah - I guess that's true," agrees Boyd. "When I moved up from the B.C. Team to the national team, there was Glenn. And because I knew he believed in me - because I realized he had my best interests at heart - I could just focus on ski racing and leave the rest to the coaches."
Boyd had his best results under Wurtele's tutelage - from his shocking early victory at Val Gardena in December of 1986 to his just-as-surprising come-from-behind win in his own backyard in '89. But when Glenn was kicked upstairs to take over the reigns of the men's team (both technical and speed), Boyd's performance began to lag. Suddenly that personal energy he'd been so used to plugging into wasn't there anymore. And he struggled.
There were injuries. And long painful recoveries. And scintillating comebacks - like his masterful third place in Kitzbuehel in '92. But after that: nothing. The mental edge that is so important at this level competition - the almost magical connection/trust between coach and athlete - was hard to re-ignite. No matter how hard he tried - no matter how much he worked and focused and twiddled with his gear - another World Cup podium never materialized. By the time he retired in 1997, he was tired of ski racing. Tired of the politics and the games and the pain of rehab. All he wanted to do was free ski again...