It appears that Durangoan Tad Elliott’s Olympic dreams will have to wait.
The Nordic skier, who has been battling sickness since October, has not been named to the U.S. Olympic cross country ski team. The team was mostly finalized this week, although there is one spot open, Elliott said in an interview Thursday. He is doubtful, however, that spot will fall to him.
“It’s hard to give up a four-year dream,” Elliott said.
The long-distance specialist has endured a difficult season. He began feeling ill in early October after a trip to the Midwest. He felt tired, had a sore throat and his heart rate rose abnormally high during training. He and a doctor figured it was overtraining.
“I thought maybe I just overcooked it,” he said.
But during some important races in late November and early December, he was still feeling poorly, and his results, for him, were equally poor. He returned home after a race in Canada for a second opinion.
Dr. Dave Sigurslid helped diagnose mononucleosis, which Elliott is mystified how he contracted.
Elliott, the son of Mike and Nancy Elliott of Durango, kept hoping for a quick health turnaround, and kept U.S. team coaches apprised of his situation.
He still had a chance asrecently as Jan. 8, when he competed in the 30-kilometer freestyle race during the U.S. Cross Country Championships at Soldier Hollow, Utah. But he didn’t feel normal. After keeping within sight of the leaders for two-thirds of the race, he ran out of steam – again watching his heart rate climb dangerously high.
In previous seasons, Elliott had posted consistent top-10 national finishes and earned several titles. In 2013 at the U.S. championships, he placed second in the 15K freestyle.
The 25-year-old Elliott – whose father, Mike Elliott, competed in three Olympics as a cross country skier – isn’t yet setting his sights on the 2018 Olympics. He’s not looking so far down the road.
“I’m disappointed,” he said, but adding that people have rallied around him despite the trying season.
“The support from my sponsors and the Durango community has been unbelievable,” said Elliott, who races for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
Durango will be represented at the upcoming Winter Olympics by biathlete Lanny Barnes. The story of how her twin sister, Tracy, sacrificed her Olympic spot for Lanny has gone nationwide.
The twins appeared Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show, CNN’s “New Day” and NBC Sports’ “Sports Dash.” They have been getting media inquiries from across the country and from England to share their story.
The Olympics run Feb. 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.