WHISTLER, BC (May 10) – Eager to master the 2010 Olympic trails early on, the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team headed to Whistler, BC for its summer training camp to get a feel for the terrain they will be competing on in less than two years.
“It's great to be on the Olympic courses. I feel like we're really getting to know them. Just being in the area, it's starting to feel a little more like home,” said U-23 Cross Country World Championship bronze medalist Liz Stephen (East Montpelier, VT). “The training is going great. I think the trails are amazing. They're wide with good downhills and good climbs. They are really fun to ski and I'm feeling great about them.”
In addition to Stephen, a student at Westminster College in Utah, other athletes training at the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley include Olympians Torin Koos (Leavenworth, WA), Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), Kris Freeman (Andover, NH) as well as U.S. champion Leif Zimmermann (Bozeman, MT).
“Our goal was to come up here and really learn the terrain,” said Cross Country Head Coach Pete Vordenberg. “They've done such a good job of grooming and there's at least three to four feet of snow on the ground. We're really dialing in the courses and there's still two years to go so I'm feeling pretty good about it.”
“They are nice trails. They have a good flow, they're difficult but still good for skiing,” Vordenberg added. “The conditions have been perfect.”
According to Vordenberg, having the team training at the Olympic venue will increase the potential for success in 2010.
“The better you know the terrain, the better you can perform on it. It's a matter of pacing yourself and learning the distances and the altitudes,” Vordenberg said. “There are a lot of factors that we have the opportunity to dial in while we're here and everyone's doing their best to get that done.
“Our focus is to make this area our home base so as to maximize the course advantage going into 2010.”
Though Stephen is taking full advantage of familiarizing herself with the Olympic terrain, she said being there with the team is what matters most to her.
“For me, being around the team is my favorite part of the whole deal,” Stephen said. “Being able to train with everyone helps. It gives you a buddy to train with, so the bonding is my favorite part.”
The Team will be in Whistler through May 12 and will resume summer training in Bend, OR this June.
“We're on par with most of our camps and in general everyone's doing really well,” Vordenberg said. “We're excited to be up here.”