WANAKA, N.Z. (Aug. 3) – For the fourth consecutive preseason, U.S. cross country skiers have gone Down Under – to New Zealand – to train at the Snow Farm outside Wanaka on South Island. And for the fourth straight preseason, they've found plenty of snow and long loops for a variety of training situations.
“We could use a little more snow – you always can,” Head Coach (and newlywed) Trond Nystad said Wednesday after a morning workout, “but once you come here, you never go back to the glaciers [in Europe]. It's that good.”
Four members of the national team will be joined Saturday by sprint specialist – and defending U.S. champion – Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA), who is finishing graduate-level classes under the Ski Team's special program at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT), Carl Swenson (Park City, UT) and Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) also are joined in the 3-1/2-week camp by up-and-coming skiers Leif Zimmerman (Bozeman, MT), Zach Simons (also Park City) and Chris Cook (Rhinelander, WI). And Nystad's new wife (as of July 2), German star Claudia Kuenzel.
“We've got the least amount of snow in our four years here but conditions are still good and we're able to accomplish what we want. It's going well. These are probably the best snow conditions we'll see until [the Olympics in] mid-February,” Nystad said. Sprint Coach Vidar Loefshus and World Cup Coach Pete Vordenberg are helping Nystad guide the camp.
“Things are fabulous. There's nothing to be negative about. The Snow Farm sets track every day and we can ski in all directions. We have deeper stuff, narrow stuff and if we need different terrain elements, we can do that, too. We've got a one-hour loop and some smaller loops, probably 25 Ks of skiing…it's really good for distance, for intervals, whatever we want to train. We certainly have no complaints. Another snowstorm would open more terrain, but it's not essential with everything we've got now.
And,” he added, “we've been here four years so it's like coming back to the family. The Snow Farm just treats us so well.”
Training includes the traditional basics of video analysis and strength workouts – on skis to focus on arm strength and core strength and off skis. “We'll do strength work twice a week, intensity workouts three times a week and the rest is distance training.