As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, fall can be a tough time in Anchorage. Rain and cold dampen my motivation to train and my patience for snow wears thin. Fortunately, the fall US ski team camp in Park City, Utah, the perfect place to avoid two weeks of this grind. 14 days of drying out and tanning is a great way to finish out fall training before the snow starts to finally hit Anchorage and we get on skis.
I have participated in multiple junior camps in Park City, but this was my first camp as a member of the US team. Park City is important because it is the home of US Ski and Snowboard, the national organization that runs the national nordic team as well as six other Winter Olympic sports. Their headquarters is called, “The Center of Excellence,”. And has everything a professional athlete could dream of.
The importance of this building was clear on the first few days of camp as we completed strength and blood testing in one of the labs. Beyond sports science, the COE is also home to a chef that cooked our lunch and dinner five days week. I cannot stress enough how nice it is to have a delicious meal ready to eat as soon as you finish training.
On the topic of training, 14 days without a drop of rain was just what I needed to get in a lot of quality hours outside. Another benefit of this camp was being able to live and train at altitude. Having lived my whole life at sea level here in Anchorage, I have to make the most of my brief stints at altitude and get comfortable breathing in the thin air. A few of our workouts where we either skied to the top of a pass or ran up a mountain, reached as high as 10,000 feet.
One of the more exciting days at camp was uniforming and media day. An entire suitcase full of US ski team clothes, everything from casual to summer and winter training. Well worth the price of having to fly another bag home. For the media side of things we took some pictures and did a couple interviews in the new gear.
Team photo in our new gear. (This was a coaches photo not the official photo)
Another benefit of the COE was access to the “athlete study room.” Our Airbnb was not ideal for homework as most of our space was taken up with gear and the internet was unreliable. The athlete study room on the other hand, a quiet room with tables textbooks and even a whiteboard, was ideal for productivity. However, the true prize of the study room was a brand new Settlers of Catan set, the greatest board game of all time (you may disagree, but you’d be wrong). While relaxing in the evenings we played a number of games of Catan.
The last two days of camp featured two roller ski races to test the fitness. Although summer racing does not correlate perfectly to on snow fitness, it had been a while since my last race of any kind so I was excited to see where I was at. We had a competitive field thanks to many of the professional teams around the nation also being in town.
The first race was a ten-kilometer individual start skate. My result was solid considering I normally struggle in roller ski races, but as always, I was left wishing for more. The next day was a classic sprint where I had a better result. Considering that last year my sprinting was often much weaker than my distance, this was a good sign.
With camp now complete I am back in Anchorage and living the dream. We now have enough snow to ski in town, the caveat being the coverage is not perfect and my race skis are still confined to the stables.
I have a month to enjoy this snow at home before I head down to Silverstar, Canada where racing begins. After a strong fall of training, I have high hopes for this race season. I hope you enjoyed this blog and thank you for supporting me.
Top to bottom, left to right; One of the many team cars courtesy of Toyota. Most of the professional teams and US team in one photo. Fall colors from 9’000 feet. Uniforming day.