The 2007 edition of the Western Region Elite Group Camp, sponsored by the
U.S. Ski Team and Far West Nordic, is complete and was huge hit with both
athletes and coaches alike.
Almost 50 athletes and 14 coaches arrived on Sunday afternoon in time to get
acquainted and enjoy a mentally AND physically demanding special Team
Orienteering Challenge at Donner State Park on the shores of Donner Lake in
Truckee. Led by guest coach Mitch Dion of Far West Nordic, athletes were
divided into teams of 7 (plus a coach's team, which of course tried to
“bend” the rules). Running from station to station throughout the park,
contestants were required to perform tasks such as Ski-Walking, chin-ups,
swimming across the creek, and strength workouts, as well as figuring out
challenges such as getting one of their team to the top of Split Rock,
memorizing Nature Trail information, and more. Both individual and
team-building skills were required to win this event.
Monday morning found the athletes heading out to either classic roller ski
on Old Highway 40 next to the beautiful Yuba River (and near to the
not-so-attractive Interstate 80), or else going over to nearby Boreal Ski
Resort near the Auburn Ski Club for some mid-intensity running and lactate
testing. After a relaxing lunch back at the old-but-comfortable Claire
Tappaan Lodge, the groups switched their workouts.
Tuesday morning was once again designated for roller skiing, either skating
down at the road out to Boca & Stampede Reservoirs east of Truckee, or once
again along Old Hwy 40. The afternoon was reserved for a special workout at
Riverview Park in Truckee, with one group being drilled into submission in a
high-intensity strength workout by coach Travis Jones of Steamboat Springs.
The other half was led by Truckee's Center for Sports Performance Kelly
Quinn, who came up with new and unique ways to gain strength, agility, and
flexibility without the need for extraneous equipment.
Wednesday was the crux day — a difficult trail running time-trial in nearby
Negro Canyon, topping off on the upper trails of Tahoe Donner Cross Country
Ski Area. This 10 to 15 minute uphill run was the highest intensity workout
of the week, and was won by Noah Hoffman of Aspen Valley Ski Club and Kate
Dolan of Bridger Ski Foundation, with both runners shattering the course
record for the event on a beautiful Sierra morning. Wednesday afternoon
found the teams switching rollerski workouts from the day before, with some
heading off to Boca for skating and others to Old Highway 40 for classic.
Thursday morning was once again a running event, this time heading over to
nearby spectacular Lake Tahoe for an 11 mile low-intensity trail run on the
Tahoe Rim Trail in the mountains on the eastern side of the lake. Campers
were then rewarded with lunch and some well-deserved beach time on the shore
of Lake Tahoe, where, from the looks of things that evening, some athletes
(and coaches) seemed to have a sunburning contest in the high-altitude air.
Thursday afternoon was once again a repeat of the Riverview Park workout
from Tuesday, once again with Kelly Quinn and Travis Jones leading the way.
After a full week of just training, eating and sleeping, Thursday night at
Claire Tappaan Lodge found some tired but relaxed campers. Each evening of
the week a special guest speaker was brought in to address the troops,
ranging from Dr. Andy Pasternak of Reno's Silver Sage Sports Performance
Clinic, former U.S. Ski Team's Nancy Fiddler and Ben Husaby (both helping to
coach at the camp), and U.S.S.T. Continental Cup Coach Patrick Casey. On
Thursday evening, after Casey's presentation and a short multi-media
slideshow from the 2007 Junior Olympics, an impromptu “talent show” was
occurring at the lodge, led by some of the “regular” guests. Pacific
Northwest's Tom Smith and Rocky Mountain's John Gerstenberger stole the show
with their singing and (John's) piano expertise.
After a short run on Friday morning, it was time for athletes to finally
head home. “This was an awesome camp, a great experience,” said USST's
Casey. “These athletes worked as hard as any I've seen at these regional
camps, and the coaches did an incredible job of pulling this together. I
really liked having everyone here in one location, and it was good for me to
see a lot of these up-and-coming athletes first hand.” Led by Far West
Nordic's Ben Grasseschi, Sara Salo, and Gary York, coaches and athletes had
nothing but great things to say about the training and lodging conditions in
the Sierra. As described by Casey, a lot of these athletes are on the
stepping stones to gaining a spot on the U.S. Ski Team soon.
A complete gallery of photos can be found on the Far West Nordic website: