For elite skiers, resting well can be just as important as high-quality training. Morgan Arritola and Liz Stephen each learned that lesson the hard way, and both say that next year, they won’t make the same mistakes again.
Arritola, 24, and Stephen, 23, are entering their second year of World Cup racing for the U.S. Ski Team (USST). Both struggled to maintain their form for the full duration of their rookie winter, and neither cracked the top-30 at the Olympics in Vancouver. But now, as the 2010-2011 season kicks off, the two are refocusing, and have set their sights on the 2011 World Ski Championships in Oslo.
Normally, Stephen makes running a big part of her training, but she said that a foot injury last year led to a regimen of 85 percent rollerskiing, leaving her “exhausted” for the Games.
“I certainly overdid the rollerskiing last summer,” she said. “I don’t know how much of a choice I had, but I…didn’t get in the shape I wanted to get in.”
The injury has improved, though, and Stephen has been running this spring without any trouble. And even if she has to cut back, she said, “it won’t be as much rollerskiing as it has been last summer.”
“I’ll find another way to get fit,” she said.
Stephen and Noah Hoffman are the only USST members living in Park City for the whole summer, but Stephen said she’ll be far from lonely. There are University of Utah students training in town, juniors and U-23 groups coming in for development camps, and USST trips to Bend and New Zealand. And she can always ski with Hoffman.
“Noah is a great training buddy, even though I can’t keep up with him most days,” Stephen said.
Stephen’s goals for 2010-2011 are twofold. First, she wants to consistently place in the top-30 on the World Cup, with some stronger results early in the season “to get the confidence back up.” And then, there’s Oslo, where Stephen said she hopes to improve on her results from the 2009 World Championships in the Czech Republic.
Unless the early part of the year goes “incredibly well,” don’t expect to see her in the Tour de Ski.
“I think about it all the time…but I don’t think it’s in the cards for this coming year,” she said.
Arritola also will skip the Tour; she said she needs to up her sprinting game before entering—and she wants to make sure she’s firing on all cyclinders for Oslo.
Arritola will be training out of Ketchum, Idaho, where she works with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. She’s not
planning on doing much differently from last year, aside from a little more training, and more rest.
“Just making the easier days easier, and really focusing on recovering well and not starting a hard week right off the bat if I’m not fully recovered,” Arritola said. “I think that might have been one of my problems last year…that I just didn’t rest quite enough.”
One thing Arritola will focus on is her closing speed—her ability to ratchet up the pace at the tail end of distance races, and fight for places. That means she’ll finish some moderate interval sessions with speed bursts, “to try to mimic the final sprint of a distance race.”
Neither of the two women will spend much time on the domestic circuit, but when they do, both will be supported by their home clubs—Arritola by Sun Valley, and Stephen by Burke Mountain Academy, where she went to high school.
Topher Sabot contributed reporting.
Nathaniel Herz is a reporter for FasterSkier, who also covers city government for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. You can follow him on twitter @nat_herz.