Justin Wadsworth, head coach of the Canadian National Ski Team, made a deal with his athletes two years ago: if they collectively produced four or more World Cup podiums, he would bring them to Hawaii for a summer training camp. The team surpassed that benchmark and delivered six podiums in 2010-2011 in addition to World Championships gold.
Off to Maui they went in June 2011 for Canada’s first camp on the islands. Wadsworth raised the bar accordingly to ten podiums in 2011-2012 for the team to earn its way back, and again his athletes outdid the standard. Every one of Canada’s World Cup skiers stood on the podium last winter for a total of 15 medals.
As a result, Devon Kershaw, Alex Harvey, Lenny Valjas and Ivan Babikov camped (literally) in Maui again for just over two weeks this June. On Thursday, they packed up and boarded a plane back to Canmore, Alberta, to resume training on the Haig Glacier.
The goal of the camp, like last summer, was to pack in quality volume training at high altitude, with a focus on sustained steep uphill technique. On the heels of such a successful season, Wadsworth’s goal was also to maintain motivation and momentum.
“For us it’s about working really hard and having a lot of fun along the way,” he wrote in an email. “We need to keep the stoke high for the athletes, which means making things interesting, challenging and fun.”
In Maui, interesting and challenging amounted to 20-25 hours of training per week and around 60,000 feet in elevation gain over the course of 14 days. “Fun,” inevitably, involved taking advantage of Maui’s legendary surf.
It’s only July, but season-long strategy is prominent in Wadsworth’s mind. With World Championships and two Canadian World Cups on the horizon, he said their focus is definitely a little different than last winter. Competing well in Canada and Val di Fiemme will be important, but so will the Tour de Ski and planning out the season wisely around races where Wadsworth expects his team to reach the podium.
“We as a team need to be really smart in our race choices, and how we plan the year. You can’t just go into the season and try to do it all and win every time,” Wadsworth said.
The elevation of the Maui camp, while good preparation for any season, was also undertaken with an eye on the 2014 Olympics fewer than two years away.
“It’s a bit tough with World Championships low this year, but … we are working on the altitude side of things leading to Sochi,” Wadsworth wrote.
At the conclusion of the camp, he thought everyone had been skiing well and looked fit —“So I look forward to more of the same like last year.”
There is a long offseason yet to go before the World Cup begins again in November, but Wadsworth said his team is building up to match, if not surpass, its past results. He may need to come up with new motivating camp destinations for future summers.
“It’s great to be at a point where everyone on our World Cup team has stood on a World Cup podium, and when I say that it means Devon, Alex, Ivan, Lenny, Chandra, Peri and Dasha — everyone knows what it takes, and as a team we support each other to keep being there,” Wadsworth said.
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.