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Rochester Lourdes 2014 graduate and Winter Olympic hopeful Ian Torchia will be in Rochester on Saturday to do a pair of free cross country skiing clinics.

Ian Torchia has plenty to be excited about.

The Rochester Lourdes and Northern Michigan University graduate is one of the top-10 ranked male cross country skiers in the county, he's got realistic aspirations of making the 2022 Winter Olympic games, he's training with some of country's best cross country skiers in Stratton Mountain, Vt., and he's engaged to be married.

Oh, and he's really taken to his part-time job as a dishwasher at Fire Tower Restaurant in Stratton Mountain. 

"(The dishwashing) is fun," Torchia said. "It's fun to be in a different 'team' environment, at a restaurant. But it is sometimes hard at the end of a long day of training to be staring at a tub of hot water for 5 1/2 hours. I do get a free meal out if it, though, which is nice."

Torchia will be in Rochester on Saturday, telling about his world adventures in cross country skiing, as well as putting on a free dry-land cross country skiing clinic. He'll demonstrate work to be done as a "classic" skier. He's doing two sessions, the first from 9:30-11 a.m. at Quarry Hill Nature Center, the second a rollerskiing session from 1:30-3 p.m. at 5185 Meadow Crossing Road Southwest.

Torchia can't wait.

"I can't wait to give back to the Rochester skiiing community," said the 23-year-old, who from the seventh grade until he graduated from Lourdes in 2014, was a member of the Rochester cross country ski team. "Rochester recently got funding for the Gamehaven Project, which will allow snow to be made there. With climate change happening, that's what people need now to ski. I hope I can do more within the community to raise money for projects."

What he'll be doing on Saturday will mostly be giving insructions on how to excel in cross country skiing. Part of that is showing what can be done both when snow is and isn't on the ground. 

"I'll be teaching injury prevention stretching, then we'll go for a run and do some bounding (running with poles), plyometrics which are specific to the classic technique, and then core exercises," Torchia said. "Core exercises are great for cross country skiing."

Torchia learned from some of the top college coaches around when he attended Northern Michigan, a hotbed for cross country skiers. Now he's learning even more as a member of the Stratton Mountain professional team, which has a handful of Olympians on it, including 2018 Olympic gold medalist Jessica Diggins.

The professional program there, which got its start about eight years ago, has transformed itself into arguably the best one of its kind in the United States, according to Torchia.

It's been a blessing and a blast for the Rochester native to be a part of it.

"It's the next step for me in my progression as a skier," Torchia said. "Going to Northern (Michigan) was a big step, with all of the best college guys in the country. Now to go to Stratton and be in that pro program, it's a transition for sure. But Northern Michigan trained me for what I am now doing here."

Torchia says he is in the midst of the best part of this cross country skiing journey, and his quest for greatness.

"It's not the destination that is best, it's the journey along the way," he said. "For every hour of racing, you have 100 hours of training. I love it. If I didn't, I wouldn't keep doing this."

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Sports Reporter

Pat covers tennis, girls basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and baseball. He also writes about Gophers football and basketball, and the Timberwolves. He’s been reporting for the Post Bulletin since 1994.