Note: This is the eighth preview in a quick-and-dirty series on U.S. elite teams. We asked coaches to send their 2012/2013 rosters and tell us what’s new for the coming season. We will be publishing additional reports over the next few weeks. Teams are presented in no particular order.
Team: Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) Gold Team
Coaches: Colin Rodgers (head coach), Clarke Sullivan (service tech)
Roster: Simi Hamilton (U.S. Ski Team), Mike Sinnott, Matt Gelso, Reid Pletcher, Patrick Johnson;
Chelsea Holmes, Alexia Turzian, Mali Noyes, Lucy Garrec
Who’s new: Patrick Johnson (2012 Middlebury grad); Lucy Garrec (University of Vermont grad, spent previous summers training in Sun Valley); Mali Noyes (moving up from junior squad, University of Utah grad)
Who’s missing: Morgan Arritola (2010 Olympian, former USST member)
Top results last season: A regular on the World Cup circuit, Hamilton landed in the Red Group and earned a spot on the USST A-team this spring. He notched a career best of seventh in March at a classic sprint in Drammen, Norway. Before that, he finished 10th in December at a World Cup skate sprint in Rogla, Slovenia.
Sinnott started several World Cup races this year and cracked the top 50 twice, finishing with a season-best 37th in a skate sprint in Moscow. Holmes made the podium at SuperTour Finals, finishing third in the hill climb in Jay, Vt. She was fifth in the 30 k freestyle mass start two days later.
About six months after suffering serious head injuries in a rock-climbing accident, Pletcher won a SuperTour skate sprint at West Yellowstone last November. After graduating the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU) this spring, the 2011 NCAA champion is back home in Idaho, and SVSEF program director Rick Kapala thinks he’s ready for life as a full-time racer.
“You can’t help but love his enthusiasm and effort,” Kapala wrote in an email. “I think Reid will be a force on the circuit right away … and that’s good not just for us but for skiing.”
Another former NCAA champ, Gelso won a SuperTour 10 k in February in Aspen, Colo., and was sixth at U.S. nationals in both the 15 k skate and 30 k classic.
Turzian worked hard to graduate CU last fall and was back into racing form by the end of the season, placing ninth in the 30 k skate at U.S. Distance Nationals in March. Kapala wrote they were “psyched to have her for a full season” this year.
As a Middlebury senior, Johnson won several NCAA races and EISA titles, and placed ninth at U.S. nationals in the 15 k skate. Kapala explained that Johnson’s distance strengths were important for Sun Valley, which has been “a little sprint heavy on [the] guys team for a couple of years.”
Garrec had similar success at the college level, tallying numerous carnival victories and helping UVM win the 2012 NCAA championship with third- and fourth-place finishes. In past summers, she trained with Sun Valley as a guest.
“Adding her was a very easy decision,” Kapala wrote. “She also seems to have a lot of confidence in her approach and we really value that sort of direct, no-bs approach to training.”
Previously a Sun Valley junior, Noyes posted several strong results – including two SuperTour top 20’s – in her post-grad year. Kapala considers the junior-nationals champ an all-around skier, which is good for the distance-heavy women’s squad.
From the program director: While Sun Valley will miss it’s longtime racer and former USST member Morgan Arritola, who retired this spring, Kapala wrote they were looking forward to maintaining the strength of both their women’s and men’s teams. Rodgers, an accomplished skier who still competes, enters his second years as head coach, and Kapala said the athletes value his attitude, work ethic and knowledge.
The Gold Team has a new wax tech in Clarke, a former U.S. Nordic Combined staff member who also worked for Madshus and the Bridger Ski Foundation (and skier Torin Koos).
“We had to take a step forward on the service side of things. It is just too much to ask someone to coach 8-10 athletes AND manage ski services,” Kapala wrote. “Clarke has been in the game quite awhile and worked for us last year. … He’s really into the process of helping the skiers in every way he can.”
“Every season poses new challenges,” Kapala continued. “We are establishing our team personality, our ‘QUAN’ if you will. Those other programs out there are very solid and for sure we can expect that our guys and gals will need to give it their all for us to meet our team goals and for them to meet their own goals. But that’s sport. That’s what is fun and rewarding about being involved with sport at any level. It’s a blending of the human, the method and the spirit.
‘”We are very fortunate to be able to promote skiing in our community and across the US through the efforts of our Sun Valley program and while we are still months from the first big races at the World Cup and at the Super Tour, it also seems like we’ll be there tomorrow. Every day, every workout is precious. Today we GET to be cross-country skiers.”
Coach’s comment: The entire Gold Team is currently training in Sun Valley for the week of July 4th, according to Rodgers.
“We are doing some dry-land training and preparing for our on snow camp in [Alaska],” he wrote. “ We head up to Anchorage to train with APU on the 10th. The plan includes 5 days of sea level training with sme speed and intensity followed by 7 days on-snow on Eagle Glacier. Everyone is looking forward to some great training.”