Chasing Winter

With summer in Sun Valley, dreams of fresh snowfall, smooth turns and uniform corduroy are undoubtedly replaced by those of brown powder, refreshing alpine lakes and late nights on the patio. But for the SVSEF Alpine USSA Team, snow is never far from the mind. To tide them over until our own mountains are again blanketed in powder, a group of 30 athletes headed to Mammoth Mountain in California to take advantage of the snow that still graces the slopes. The athletes were treated to great hill space and amazing weather for the majority of the trip. The focus of the eight-day camp was slowing things down and getting back to building a fundamental skiing base, an important component to revisit. Coach Will Brandenburg concluded, “it was a super fun and productive camp and I’m stoked about the skiing I was seeing at the end of it!”
To take a break from training, the athletes managed to stay active by biking, hiking, playing field games, playing mini golf and adding in some dry land sessions. They wrapped it all up with a movie and some hot springs soaks.
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Nordic skiers spend hundreds of days training, and comparatively only a handful of days actually racing – so what is it all about? This is a question that surely crosses the mind of each athlete at least once in awhile, when they’re struggling to feel good during a workout or when there seems to be no end in sight to the intervals and lifting sessions and long training blocks.
The Bend Camp, which the SVSEF Nordic program has worked into their summer program for around 30 years, is a time to reset and to remember the benefits and joys inherent in training. It’s an exciting jump start to the summer; a chance for the younger, newer skiers to integrate into the life and times of Comp Team, for Prep Pro skiers to get in some workouts together and for the athletes to remember that it’s possible for the process to be simultaneously fun and memorable and challenging. It’s an opportunity to recalibrate and reinvigorate training goals, and move forward into the rest of the dry land season with new energy and awareness.
“The door you’re trying to unlock with training is to get fit enough that you can move through the landscape and be strong enough to do it; not necessarily because you’re trying to compete in every workout, but this level of fitness provides access to all these other experiences.” Nordic Program Director Rick Kapala, who says this with such facility and conviction, worked with coaches Ashley Knox, Kristen Monahan and Kelley Sinnott to orchestrate a memorable summer camp.
The group spent the first six days in Bend, getting some on-snow time at Mount Bachelor. SVSEF was joined by athletes from West Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. Despite less than ideal snow conditions on the nordic trails, the team was able to take the chairlift to ski mid-mountain, where the groomers provided decent terrain. Afternoons were spent dry land training in the Bend area. This stint was followed by a trek to the Oregon coast, specifically Pacific City, for surf sessions in the morning and dry land sessions in the afternoon for an additional three days. The surfing ultimately amounted to tumbling around in the waves; both this and running in the forest with gigantic moss-covered trees were a welcome change to the geography and climate of the Intermountain West, and were a fitting end to kick off summer training.
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The Alpine Team sets off for a two-week training camp in New Zealand this Thursday, July 21. A group of Nordic Comp Team athletes is currently training on the Haig glacier in Canada, which just received a whopping foot of snow. The team will stay for a week before returning to Sun Valley.