197: Doug Lewis: Owner, President, and Director at ELITEAM and Alpine Analyst at NBC Universal Sports TV

April 9, 2021

Doug Lewis talks about his journey from two-time Olympic skier to his impressive career with ELITEAM and NBC.

Guest Doug Lewis opens up about what it was that made him want to compete in the Olympics? “I think I can remember when I was 8-years-old. I grew up basically on the slopes of the Middlebury College Snow Bowl. My mom was a ski instructor, and if you had caught me and made me stop as I did laps on the lift, at 8-years-old I said I want to be on the U.S. Ski Team. I want to be in the Olympics. What started as this love, I think it started as a love for skiing instilled by my mom and dad, that combined with my competitiveness.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Doug Lewis, Owner, President, and Director at ELITEAM and Alpine Analyst at NBC Universal Sports TV about attending the Green Mountain Valley Ski School. “My parents wanted me to stay at high school, go to college. They are both Middlebury College grads. It was academics, right? My parents, they are like, you can do this for a while. But it was all driven by me. There was Burke Mountain Academy, Green Mountain Valley School, and Stratton. There were three academies. That was the only way that I knew of. I had done my research, that I was going to find my way, get the training I needed to get onto the U.S. Ski Team .”

What You Will Learn:

What were Doug Lewis’ beginnings in training to be a skier? “I was lucky enough to go to the Green Mountain Valley School. It was only an hour away from my house. So, my mom didn’t have to say, good bye good bye. She could see me in an hour. But, it was a boarding school. But every week, all through high school, I had to drive an hour back each week to take my cello lessons, because mom wouldn’t let me quit the cello. The cello is not a very sexy instrument to play in high school. But, she kept me close. But my parents, my mom and dad let me go and pursue it. They supported me. But they were like, you’ve got to drive the train, and I was happy to floor it and drive the train as fast as I could to the U.S. Ski Team.”

Doug Lewis walks us through what was required of him to be chosen for his first Olympic competition in 1984. “The key is to first get to the U.S. Ski team. But that is just the first step. That is not the final step. That is the first step. Then you start training with the best in the U.S. Then you start competing with the best in the world. Then every four years the Olympics come around, and out of the 10-15 down hillers, I was the guy that went straight. I was the speed skier, out of those 10-15 the criteria was you had to have one podium, two top 10s, three top 20s, whatever it is, to qualify for the U.S. ski team. In 1984, at 20 years old, I got those two top 15s and I just remember when they told me I was going to the Olympics, it was a feeling of my chest exploding, my heart exploding with joy, and just this singular focus that it is not over yet. This is again, just another step to being the best in the world.”

What is Doug Lewis’ take on coping with moments of falling short? “With every failure, with every injury, what did I learn? Because that is the key, right? I learned that number 1, I had to manage this risk. I was 110% all the time. I had to manage it. When was I going to pin it? The second thing is I had to have some physical fitness. So, the next year when I got back to that starting gate, I weighed 20 pounds more. Muscle. Mass. Core. Luckily, I have had no lasting physical injuries. But that day was introval in getting me to where I needed to go. Luckily, it was one step back but five steps forward.”

Doug Lewis expresses the power of confidence. “You just got to find your confidence. Believe in yourself and it is so important to know that you deserve to be there. I was in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia on a chairlift and you know, it can be overwhelming. You can lose your confidence. But you just have to believe in yourself, especially during those down times. It is so important.”

How did Doug Lewis’ two experiences in the Olympics, both in Sarajevo and Calgary different? “Totally different. I view my Sarajevo experience as the private Olympics. It was so far away that not a lot of the American media went. There was no media. It was like this family. In 1984, everyone ate in the dining hall. All of the athletes stayed in the Olympic village. Now all of the special athletes and the fantastic athletes are in their own apartments.”

Physical Fitness vs Mindset

What kind of state of mind does an athlete need to be in to go beyond just being physically talented? “The higher you go, it is less about your physical fitness and talent and it is more about what is between your ears. The mental side becomes just what separates anybody. Take for the Olympics for example, I now cover the Olympics for NBC and I was in Pyeongchang, the top 12 athletes, the top 15 athletes in that start, on that day, can win that race. They are talented enough ski-wise. They have done the training. But it is what is between their ears that is going to separate them, their confidence, their ability to handle stress, their focus, their visualization, I could keep going on.”

Olympics in Sarajevo

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Doug Lewis “Sarajevo was incredible because it was my first Olympics. I remember driving across the border, across the Iron Curtain. This is 1984. This is the USSR. This is the big, bad country and we were going across the Iron Curtain and they stopped us at the border and it was classic. It was foggy, maybe a little drizzle. It was midnight. They held us for two hours. We didn’t know if we were going to the gulag. It was this classic thing and we get through, and we are relieved. We were past this border and arrived in Sarajevo. My roommate Bill Johnson won the gold medal. I was rooming with the guy that did what I wanted to do, and what he wanted to do was be the best in the world.”

Links to Additional Resources:

Mark Pattison: markpattisonnfl.com
Emilia’s Everest – The Lhotse Challenge: https://www.markpattisonnfl.com/philanthropy/
ELITEAM website: eliteam.com
Doug Lewis social media: LinkedIn

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