My name is Benjamin Lustgarten and I am currently a professional cross-country ski racer in Vermont! I was born and raised in Burlington, Vermont and grew up doing all sorts of sports and outdoor activities with my family. My parents taught my twin brother and I to enjoy the outdoors and participate in sports to have fun.
I love the pursuit of sport, training, and racing full time because of finding new ways to challenge myself not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally. I attended Middlebury College from 2010 to 2014 and competed on the ski team all four years. I qualified for NCAA Championships each year and had enough success to start thinking about skiing professionally!
The success was hard won however. I struggled with some significant injuries throughout college but it all peaked my senior year with a slightly torn iliopsoas in the fall, concussion in the winter, followed closely by a crash into a tree and torn PCL ligament in my knee.
Overcoming injuries have been a kind of hobby of mine for the past few years. Along with unbelievable patience and hours of dedicated daily stretching and physical therapy, I have been looking into new ways to reduce injury.
Apparently strong emotional and mental stress can manifest itself in tight muscles in the body, so I started to take up meditation, journaling, and self-help types of activities to stay more relaxed and calm. I have worked on specific neurological performance training to rebalance the body via the brain and eyes. I have learned about the most effective way to stretch tight muscles, how to strengthen unbalanced hips, how to release tight fascia with foam rollers and balls, how to run properly with a midfoot strike to reduce impact to my knee and hip, and many other things.
I really enjoy learning about the human body, its connection to the mind, and how the mind can even control the body and overcome the immense pain of endurance racing. I love learning about nutrition, recovery, technique, strength training, endurance, and physiology.
I feel that the more I learn, the better I can be, so I always try to find new things to learn about and how I can use it to be faster the next race. I ski for the Craftsbury Green Racing Project in my home state of Vermont. Last year I won the US National Championships in the 30km classic race, which catapulted my season and earned me starts in seven World Cup races and a spot on the US World Championship.
My goal this year is to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics! It is a lofty goal, but every year I surprise myself and I hope I can do it. One of the best feelings in the world is when you are pushing so incredibly hard in a race and start to feel good doing it and get a burst of adrenaline and self-confidence to go even faster and leave it all out on the course.
Feeling strong and fast is my goal, the results just come with that feeling. Feeling one with a sport is why I train so hard all the time, and I feel it is a good way to approach any passion in life.