The Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) has kicked off its training season with its second annual camp in Bend, Oregon.
According to newly-minted CNST World Cup team member Len Valjas, the entire World Cup team was present for the 11 day camp, with the only exception being Alex Harvey, who is currently finishing up exams at home in Quebec.
While the weather in Bend had been less than ideal – in a recent interview with FasterSkier, Valjas described it as “rainy and snowy” – the Canadians have been putting in big and high quality training early.
In the mornings, the Canadians took advantage of great skiing up at Mt. Bachelor, where a base of roughly 10 feet of snow remains, providing for plenty of top quality skiing. In the afternoon, the workouts were similar to what most skiers are getting in at this time of year – rollerskiing and running on some of the wide variety of terrain available in Bend.
The early focus for the CNST is technique, and just getting back into the swing of regular training.
“We’ve been doing a lot of technique work and video,” said Valjas, “We’re trying to avoid developing any bad habits early in the season.”
In addition to the Canadians, the United States Ski Team (USST) is also training in Bend and at Mt. Bachelor, and the two teams combined for workouts on a regular basis.
For Valjas, having the Americans present provided some additional training partners. In a recent sprint workout, Valjas faced off against Andy Newell, giving the young Canadian an extra boost. And with Valjas, Newell, and Kershaw present at an interval workout, you get half of a high-quality World Cup sprint heat to test yourself against.
While the camp was Valjas’ first as a full-time member of the World Cup team, he is taking it in stride.
“It’s pretty similar to the World Cup season last year,” he said, “I was treated pretty well, so it’s been easy, the coaches have been really helpful.”
And Valjas is already noticing a difference between his shape this year and last, and the early training camp has put him into the training mindset right away.
As for the friendly rivalry with the Americans, so far a golf game was planned, but had to be cancelled due to poor weather. Instead, the two teams bought baseball gear, and went toe to toe on the ball diamond in an impromptu ‘World Series’.