As the world turned its attention to London this weekend for the opening days of the Summer Olympics, another set of elite American athletes were quietly logging training hours in Ramsau, Austria, in preparation for the coming winter season and, ultimately, the 2014 Winter Games. The U.S. Ski Team men began a 12-day European camp on Dachstein glacier on Saturday, where they will stay for a week before heading to Oberhof, Germany, to train in the indoor ski tunnel.
This being the first time back on snow for much of the team since the Mt. Bachelor camp eight weeks ago, technique work is a primary focus. Noah Hoffman arrived a week early at the glacier and was joined over the weekend by teammates Tad Elliott, Andy Newell and Simi Hamilton, and Stratton Mountain School T2 skier Eric Packer, who is part of the National Training Group. Kris Freeman, Skyler Davis and Erik Bjornsen all decided to stay home to train for various reasons; Bjornsen has the Eagle Glacier in his backyard and Freeman chose to train at home after a recent period of travel for sponsorship commitments.
“The main goals include getting the men back on snow…working on technique, getting the men together to push each other, testing new equipment, and investigating some training venues that we have not used in recent years,” Grover said in an email.
The USST has not officially trained on Dachstein since New Zealand’s Snow Farm became such a major component of its summer schedule 10 years ago, and has never before been to the Oberhof tunnel. While at altitude in Ramsau the team’s training plan will consist of high volume, and once switching to lower elevation in Oberhof will include more intensity and speed. A skate time trial in the tunnel is also in the works — “we don’t have any concrete plans to coordinate training with any other national teams but we will see who is around in Oberhof,” Grover said.