The 2014 race season has arrived, and with it, the start of SuperTour racing. In an Olympic year, the elite domestic race series becomes even more important to aspiring skiers. Expect intense and highly competitive racing from the get-go!
Visitor numbers are up for the West Yellowstone Ski Festival and the Rendezvous Ski Trails are open in their entirety, but the snow is a little denser than usual. “It’s definitely a little odd for here,” groomer Doug Edgerton said of the manmade-like conditions that are 100-percent natural. “Historically, we’re cold and dry.”
At 22, Heidi Widmer’s suffered three concussions in the last four years, with her most recent resulting from a rollerski crash this fall. “I’m super lucky,” the Canadian NST member says. “There’s no internal bleeding, I’m functioning, I’m fine, but I just have to be able to take care of this and come out of it with some lessons learned for sure.”
On Thursday, a classic-sprint showdown among some of the top Canadian and U.S. nordic skiers took place on Frozen Thunder. “Let’s be honest,” men’s winner Dakota Blackhorse-von Jess says. “Winning a race against [Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton], even in a tune up event, even with a relatively small field, even in October, it still makes a good time even better.”
Noah Hoffman didn’t check the elevation on the Stelvio Pass glacier in the Italian Alps while packing for a two week training camp with Kris Freeman and the Maine Winter Sports Center Olympic Development Team. It turned out to be just shy of 11,000 feet, the highest Hoffman and Freeman have ever lived and trained.
With a new head coach at the helm and a couple new athletes, CXC is rebuilding while setting tangible goals for the season ahead. “I think at first, they were skeptical to listen to me because they’ve heard this before and results have ebbed and flowed,” Bill Pierce says. “But I think they’re willing to give it a chance.”
There’s a reason APU ventures to Park City each summer, and it’s all about transitioning and revving up for the season ahead. “Whether it’s the altitude or not, I think everyone here has gotten two weeks of incredible training,” U.S. Ski Team and APU skier Holly Brooks said. “It’s hard to say from a physiological standpoint, but I think it’s been a really productive camp either way.”
Switzerland has a population just a bit smaller than the state of Virginia, and despite the Alps and Jura mountains faces some of the same challenges in developing World Cup skiers that you might find in North America. We chatted with Swiss U24 coach Christian Flury, formerly of Alberta World Cup Academy, about how his squad represents his country’s future, and how he manages it.