The last time Andy Newell and Ivan Babikov skied together, they were fighting tooth and nail over the top of the Lonesome Pines Ski Area in Fort Kent, during the last stage of the 2010 SuperTour Finals in Fort Kent, Maine.
The two were at it again on Monday morning, but in a much more amicable—and slower-paced—setting, as the U.S. and Canadian national teams combined forces to kick off their first camp of the year in Bend, Oregon. Each country had its own plan for the day’s workout, but Newell said he found some time to ski with Canadians Babikov, Stefan Kuhn, and George Grey during his two-hour session.
“I’m going to be trying to be able to take advantage of skiing with them, because I feel like they try to push the distance pace—especially Ivan,” Newell said. “I’m not necessarily saying I should train like that all the time, but sometimes in the camp setting, that can be a good thing.”
For the next ten days, the two teams will be training at Mount Bachelor, where they will be joined by athletes from other elite programs including the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation and the Methow Olympic Development Project. All the members of the American team are present with the exception of Kikkan Randall, who is preparing to travel to the FIS Congress meetings in Turkey later this month, according to U.S. coach Matt Whitcomb.
Newell said the teams were greeted Monday morning by crisp temperatures (27 degrees!), and an inch of fresh powder on top of a groomed track. The Americans were doing an easy skate session, and the coaches, wasting no time, were already manning
the video cameras. In the afternoon, the team headed to a gym for their second workout.
According to Newell, a time trial with members of both teams may be in the works for next Monday. Between now and then, there will be plenty more skiing, as well as the potential for inter-team soccer—and maybe even a trip to the local standing wave near the mountain for some surfing.
Newell called the skiing “sweet,” and, judging by his comments on Twitter, Babikov thought so, too.
“Bend is awesome,” he wrote late Monday. “It’s going to be a very good camp.”
Nat Herz is an Alaska-based journalist who moonlights for FasterSkier as an occasional reporter and podcast host. He was FasterSkier's full-time reporter in 2010 and 2011.