With one month to go before the World Cup opener in Dusseldorf, Germany the U.S. Ski Team preparations have moved east to the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center in upstate New York. The two-week training camp has taken advantage of Lake Placid’s low altitude, rolling terrain and U.S. Olympic Committee-funded accommodations.
Athletes from XC Oregon, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, CXC, and New England’s top juniors have joined the U.S. Ski Team in Lake Placid. â€œTraining with the U.S. Ski Team at the last couple camps has been a great experience,â€ said Team Rossignol’s Kevin Hochtl (Vail, Co). â€œI have world class athletes to train with, and I get a sense of how they prepare for their sport. They are very professional — really focused on what the day’s task is. Then they go out and get it done, making sure training is done the right way in regards to technique and intensity.
â€œChris Grover (USST Sprint Coach) called this spring, inviting me to all the USST training camps. I’ve found he’s an incredible guy. He knows what’s going on with skiing, especially in the sprinting realm. It’s great working with him because he really wants to see Americans go fast. And from what I’ve seen, people are already skiing faster. The technique and the intensity everyone’s bringing to training and time-trials is better. You can see that the national team skiers have made steady gains this summer.â€
Some of this progression might be attributable to USST Strength and Conditioning Coach Zach Wetterford. â€œSport training comes first, second and third. Always. Plyometrics, specific strength drills, and weight work just enhance sport training,â€ says Mr. Wetterford. â€œThe strength work I have the sprinters (Andy Newell, Chris Cook, Torin Koos), Andrew Johnson and the Continental Cup girls (Liz Stephen, Morgan Arritola) doing is structured around two themes – injury prevention and consistency in training.
â€œYes, we’re working on our athletes to get them stronger, to be more powerful skiers. But power and strength gains only help performance if the athlete becomes more powerful within their technique, not necessarily in an absolute sense. You can’t lose this when supplementing sport training with something like weight lifting or plyometrics.â€
World Cup Coach Justin Wadsworth sees encouraging signs at the camp. â€œThis camp has been an opportunity to work extensively at higher intensities. We’ve spent the earlier camps at altitude, between Park City and New Zealand, so this is the first block of sea level for everyone to focus on getting in some real quality work.
And what does low altitude provide? â€œOxygen. With more oxygen, movements are quicker, and more powerful. And you can sustain intensity longer. Sure, you can do threshold or Vo2 Max intervals anywhere, but at altitude ski movements tend to be slower, heart rates are suppressed (at sea level, you can reach higher heart rates when training at a set lactate production level), and ski speed isn’t the same.
â€œFor all skiers, and especially our sprinters with the World Cup opener around the corner, Lake Placid has been ideal. Dusseldorf is also at low altitude, so benefits carry over in this short a period. The sprinters have been competing a fair amount at this camp against each other. This competition is a good thing, especially in preparation right before beginning the race season.â€
And the distance and continental cup skiers? Justin sees the distance skiers as ever diligent about staying on top of the small things that allow one to handle huge training loads that’ll allow them to keep progressing. And the conti cuppers? â€œThey look good. They look solid. We just got to keep them consistent and hungry over a long period of time.â€
â€œI love being back in the East,â€ said Liz Stephen. â€œI like the thick air. The humidity feels good. Then add in the facilities here — ice baths, athletic trainers on staff — at the Olympic Training Center. It’s hard not to be a good skier here.â€
For daily camp updates, training schedules, and photos go to: http://nensa.net