Teller promotional poster.
We live in an age of specialization.
Athletes practice their craft year-round. Not just the professional ones. I have a buddy from L.A. whose 8-year old daughter plays soccer 52 weeks a year. League games. Tournament games. All-star games. It’s endless.
Or think of all the local amateur skiers and snowboarders who spend part of their “offseason” in places like Chile or Australia. Some are sponsored in part by ski or apparel companies. Mostly, the sponsors are Mom and Dad.
The assumption, however, is that if one is good enough and fortunate enough to reach the top of his/her sport, that the financial stuff takes care of itself.
Try telling that to Mammoth’s Johnny Teller.
Teller is currently the #1 U.S. Skiercross racer. He just missed out on an Olympic berth last year, and the two men ranked ahead of him, Daron Rahlves and Casey Puckett, have since retired.
So his star is on the rise, right? Well … the sport of skiercross hasn’t exactly penetrated the national consciousness yet. Though Teller says it’s a popular sport in Europe, it’s just starting to catch on here.
Which means that during the offseason, Johnny Teller is not training in Australia. Nor is he doing promotional gigs for K2. Nope. Instead, you’ll find Teller turning wrenches at Alpine Garage on Center Street.
And today, you’ll also find him in these pages asking for some financial assistance as he prepares for the 2010-2011 World Cup campaign.
Teller is seeking to raise $25,000 in order to help pay travel, food and related expenses. This to cover three trips to Europe, a trip to Canada, the X Games in Aspen and the World Championships to be held this year in Deer Valley.
The first event is the Red Bull Hutten Rally in St. Anton, Austria on Dec, 20. Teller was one of 16 racers who was pre-qualified by race organizers.
The winner of the event takes home a Suzuki-made automobile.
Sheet: What make?
Teller: Cheap, probably.
Sheet: Well, at least you’ll be able to fix it.
Teller: Fix it? I’d sell it.
Sheet: What’s the typical purse for a skiercross event?”
Teller: The actual purses are miniscule. Except for the X Games, That’s $25,000. The top guys have sponsors with incentive-based contracts that reward them based upon how they finish.
Sheet: Do the other guys have off-season jobs? Or do they make enough on tour to support themselves.”
Teller: The top guy last year was Swiss. Off-season, I think he works road construction.
Sheet: How many skiers are on the tour?
Teller: 80 or 90.
Sheet: Will there be any other Americans?
Teller: Pat Duran [coached by Puckett] will be traveling with me.
Sheet: So how much have you raised so far?
Teller: 250 … from you (laughs). I’ve had some small donations from others. And I worked a lot of side jobs for my Dad (Mammoth Chevron’s Karl Teller) this summer.
There are indications, however, that the Mountain, as well as Kittredge Sports and Footloose Sports, are working on some type of sponsorship arrangement.
That may support basic lodging and travel needs, but additional support is still necessary to pay coaches, technicians, et. al.
Teller, 27, is engaged to Angela Dessert, whom he has dated for four years. Dessert works at Union Bank. They plan to be married in July 2011.
Who could have predicted such domesticity, based upon Johnny’s wilder days.
“I did have a rough time for a few years from when I was 18 to about 22. I did get in some trouble and had to go to jail. That pretty much cured me,” says Johnny. “I cleaned my life up and stared dating Angela when I was 24. She’s definitely played a big part in getting my life together in many ways.”
And Teller is certaintly cognizant of the many people (especially his folks) who have helped him out along the way and plans to return the favor for the rest of his life.
“I will be helping coach with the junior ski team on some weekends this winter and plan on having a great time skiing with the next generations of rippers,” he said.
Based upon his finish to last year’s season, it appears Teller, who turned to skiercross after narrowly missing out on making the 2006 U.S. Alpine team, is primed to improve on his top-32 world ranking.
Skiercross is a perfect fit for him, Teller says. “I can’t wait to get back on courses made for speed, big air and contact. I feel I am on the cusp of something big!”
Last year, Teller followed up a 6th place finish at X Games with a 2nd place finish in a NorAm race at Sugar Bowl which featured a field of Vancouver-bound Olympic invitees.
Post-Olympics, he closed the World Cup season strongly with 11th, 13th and 21st place finishes.
If you’d like to support John Teller, you can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 760.914.3071. His website, www.johnteller.com, will be live within a few days.