Alaska Camp Fueled By Push To Promote Women’s Skiing

Audrey ManganAugust 6, 2011
Ida Sargent, Sophie Caldwell, Sadie Bjornsen, and Rosie Brennan enjoying freshly groomed snow on Eagle Glacier last week. Photos courtesy of Sadie Bjornsen and Jessie Diggins.

About 15 women and their coaches from the U.S. Ski Team (USST), the Canadian National Ski Team (CNST), Alaska Pacific University (APU), and select elite juniors and U23s recently finished up two weeks of training in Anchorage, AK for the first ever “North American Women’s Training Alliance” camp.

FasterSkier caught up with former Dartmouth College teammates Rosie Brennan, now at APU, and Sophie Caldwell, a U23 in her senior year, in the days following their return from Eagle Glacier, where the camp stayed in its final week for some on-snow training.

FasterSkier: This camp was really unique in bringing the top skiers from both the U.S. and Canada together to train. How do you think it went overall?

Rosie Brennan: It was really good—it was a lot of fun and everything went smoothly, so I think it was very successful overall. It was the first of its kind, especially with the Canadians [Chandra Crawford and Perianne Jones] there, so it was really an all-inclusive women’s camp.

The group after a rollerski near Anchorage. Photo by Matt Whitcomb.

Sophie Caldwell: It was a lot of fun having the Canadians there, because I didn’t know them well before.  With them, the APU girls, and the USST girls there were probably 15 of us, and a lot of them are the best in the country, some the best in the world. It was a really good experience, training with them and to have these two countries come together.

I’ve trained with a bunch of those girls before in college, at USST camps, and at World Juniors, but I’d never been to a camp with Kikkan [Randall], Chandra or Perianne before, so it was fun to hop behind those girls and see what they’re doing.

FS: What sort of training did you get in?

RB: For the dryland in Anchorage, we did a lot of rollerskiing. We had two interval sessions, a time trial, and a speed session. There was a lot of distance, and running and strength in the afternoons.

[APU coach] Erik Flora wrote the training plan and organized the whole thing. I’ve been to a handful of USST camps before, but I haven’t done one in a couple of years. This one was different because it was at APU, and it was more just a camp, for anyone.

Matt Whitcomb, Erik Flora, and Chris Grover enjoying some sun.

SC: The coaches [Flora, USST coaches Matt Whitcomb and Chris Grover, and CNST coach Eric De Nys] worked together to figure out the workouts, but we were doing what APU usually does on the glacier, and the U.S. coaches gave  their input as needed.

RB: And you could alter the plan to fit your needs, but in general we followed Erik’s plan.

FS: How were the conditions?

SC: We had great weather in Anchorage for the dryland portion, and when we went up to the glacier we had pretty good weather there too.  Its not always like that, so we were pretty lucky. It really made for a successful camp.

RB: You fly in a helicopter from Girdwood, AK. It’s a five or so minute ride, and the glacier is just under 6,000 feet. It’s really cool.

The first few days on the glacier the weather was iffy—it was rainy, snowing, and pretty windy. Then the weather got better, so I guess that’s a better progression. When the sun comes out, its really beautiful up there; just unbelievable skiing.

[APU] just got a new piston bully, and this was the first time we used it. You could skate two wide, and then set good classic tracks for the afternoon. I was using klister, a few were using zeroes or harries, but klister is pretty much what you use up there.

FS: Submissions to the Women’s Video Contest were coming in while you were up there. Did you get to contribute to the judging of those at all?

RB: Not to the judging, but we all watched the submission up there together.  It was cool to have it going on at the same time, and we all had a meeting and talked about what it meant to have our big group of girls training together.

SC:  There were a lot of ideas going around; it was the first time the U.S. and Canada had come together to train, so we were just trying to think of ways to involve girls of all ages all over.

Even though we’re all competitors we were still able to get along, have fun, and have a successful camp.

Some of the girls, ecstatic to be on snow together.

RB: All of us were a little nervous before the camp, since the glacier is such tight quarters. A week is a long time to spend in that small a space with 15 girls, but we all had a lot of fun. The success we had got us even more passionate about getting girls to keep training in groups.

FS: What sort of ideas came out of this meeting?

SC: We didn’t decide on anything for sure, but we were thinking of things like posters and calendars, and using social networking. I think the video contest [which used Facebook for promotion and voting] was really successful. It’s a work in progress.

Chandra and Kikkan were thinking of using Fast and Female to promote more women’s training, and I’m sure we’ll continue to be in touch once everyone gets settled in back home.

RB: I really believe that this camp will happen again, and because of its success I think there will be a lot more girls interested in coming next time.

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Audrey Mangan

Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.

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