Among UCLA Anderson’s student body and alumni network are several U.S. Olympians, many of them medalists. As Rio 2016 escalates, we’re profiling five standouts who talk about their athletic team training and how an Anderson education influenced their esprit de corps.
By David Davis
Mark Bathum (’86), Alpine Skiing
2014 Sochi Paralympics; 2010 Vancouver Paralympics
Mark Bathum was a nationally ranked skier when he began to realize that his eyesight was failing him. He quit racing to go to college, earned his MBA at Anderson, and then began his business career. Only later, well into middle age, did he start racing again. Skiing with a guide, he qualified for the U.S. Paralympic team and won silver medals in 2010 and 2014.
Bathum has found that working together toward one goal improves performance in business and in sports. “Even on a team of software developers or fixed-income security traders that are all working independently, the more you do things together as a team, and the more you share about what you’re doing, the more you’re going to learn things from one another. The performance of each individual is going to be elevated through the exposure to the other people on the team.”
Even though Bathum usually competes against men half his age, he has found success by adopting lessons he learned in the business realm. “In business you have to think strategically and tactically,” he said. “You have to leverage and address your strengths and weaknesses. I bring that mentality to sport: what are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? How am I going to find a comparative advantage? How am I going to approach training and preparation differently than my opponents?”
Bathum plans to try to qualify for the U.S. team in 2018. The Paralympics are a time of “intensive joy,” he said. “Everything is just extreme — your highs and your lows. You feel bonded with everybody, including the volunteers and your competitors. You’re highly focused because you’ve reached your peak physically and emotionally. The whole experience, every element of it, is life in overdrive.”
Bathum works for Seattle-based CBK Global, which provides websites and online advertising for the auto industry.