The Western Regional Elite Group (REG) Camp kicked off in earnest at 6 a.m. Monday, June 25, with a trail-run time trial up Agony Hill. On the training schedule, instructions read: “Bring your ‘A’ game.”
Dozens of teenage athletes tackled the 1,200-foot, 0.9-mile climb in Salt Lake City, tucked behind the University of Utah and often used as a measuring stick for pain tolerance. By the afternoon, the group was back in Park City – the home base of the weeklong camp – for core and strength exercises with U.S. Ski Team assistant coach Jason Cork.
Throughout the seven-day camp, 36 athletes from five divisions (Rocky Mountain, Intermountain, High Plains, Pacific Northwest and Far West) worked with 10 coaches for a total of 20 training hours. They hiked, ran, rollerskied, lifted, played volleyball and went to a waterslide park.
Meanwhile 2,300 miles east in Craftsbury, Vt., the New England Nordic Ski Association (NENSA) hosted a the Eastern REG Camp, with a total of 33 skiers (19 J1s and OJs in the elite group and 14 in the J2 camp).
They also raced uphill, ran and rollerskied last week. They worked on strength and agility, hill bounding and intervals, and attended presentations at night.
Several U.S. Ski Team (USST) members from around the country made it to the camps as well. Out West, elite juniors chased Simi Hamilton, Noah Hoffman and Tad Elliott up Big Cottonwood Canyon during an over-distance classic rollerski. Miles Havlick, an NCAA champion and Ski Racing Magazine’s two-time Collegiate Skier of the Year, also joined them on the 3 ½-hour trek to the top of Guardsman Pass.
In Craftsbury, national-team skiers Andy Newell, Ida Sargent and Skyler Davis participated, along with elite skiers from the Craftsbury Green Racing Program and Stratton Mountain School.
FasterSkier caught up with Western REG director Mike Elliott and Eastern REG coordinator Janice Sibilia via email for details on last week’s camps.
Where: Park City, Utah (Canyons Ski Resort townhomes)
When: June 24-July 1
Weather: Hot (most workouts started at 7 a.m., with the exception of Agony Hill, so they were able to complete each)
Workouts: Four intense training sessions (including rollerski time trials at Soldier Hollow, Canadian strength tests at the USSA Center of Excellence); two over-distance rollerskis
Extras: Several presentations, including Tad Elliott’s talk about goals
Highlights: “The USST was a tremendous amount of help,” Elliott wrote. “We had Jason Cork at every training session. We had USST members Simi Hamilton, Tad Elliott, and Noah Hoffman joining us on the over distance days and a time trial day. Miles Havlick with the University of Utah and a NCAA winner last year skied with us on Big Cottonwood Canyon.
“We had a couple of days of Strength with Alex and Michael in the Center of Excellence that they were awesome. Great information and some light hearted teasing. Alex strongly recommends NO spandex on Dudes in the Strength Training at the COE.”
Additional comments: Elliott was impressed by the amount of “highly motivated and very talented skiers,” which consistently showed up early with all of their equipment before workouts. They didn’t have to wait on stragglers, and some days the vans departed ahead of schedule.
“All of the skiers showed up in fairly good condition and had been training for a couple of months before the REG,” Elliot wrote. “When the skiers introduced themselves we learned … that one is going to Harvard, two to Dartmouth, one to Middlebury, one to Colorado University, three are taking a Post Graduate year to train specifically for cross-country skiing.
The J2s did extremely well throughout the week, he continued. Two local juniors from the Wasatch Nordic Ski Club and Park City Nordic joined them at Agony Hill and for the two over-distance days.
“The classic roller ski up Big Cottonwood canyon to the top of Guardsmen Pass was the last training session and it was long and steep. Camp attendees got to observe what year round training is like at the next level by being able to roller ski with Simi Hamilton, Tad Elliott, Noah Hoffman, and Miles Havlick. Even with all the training, the skiers reported that they were having fun.”
Where: Craftsbury, Vt. (Craftsbury Outdoor Center at Hosmer Point)
When: June 24-July 1
Weather: Rainy at first, then hot (especially during the final workout, Saturday’s rollerski-run combo)
Workouts: 11 in seven days, six of which were intensity or speed.
Three testing phases (rollerski agility, strength and Elmore Uphill run (on which Nils Koons set a course record), to determine which skiers would be invite to the National Elite Group camp in September in Lake Placid, N.Y.)
There were also two interval sessions consisting of DP intervals and hill bounding, recovery runs, rollerski sessions and one over-distance combo run/rollerski.
Extras: Presentations by Sargent, Newell, U.S. Ski Team assistant coach Bryan Fish and Burke Mountain Academy coach Kate Barton on the J1 Scando/U18 trip last winter.
Highlights: “The camp went very well,” Sibilia wrote. “It was hard, but gave the athletes lots of head-to-head time. They also had the opportunity to jump in with Olympian Andy Newell, and [other] USST members … Ida Sargent, and Skyler Davis. Most members of the CGRP and newly formed Stratton Elite team also joined us. For the uphill run we had the [Green Mountain Valley School] join in the fun! There was also an Olympic Day celebration that some of the REG athletes took part in, and a competitive game of mini golf!”
Additional comments: “Everyone came to camp prepared, and absorbed the training well,” Sibilia continued. “The clubs are doing a really good job of keeping the training focused and the motivation up. Regional coaches came in to help run the camp, as did the folks from Craftsbury and Hosmer Point. The energy level was high!”
On the NENSA website, Sibilia wrote that the athletes had been mindful throughout the week with details concerning nutrition, hydration and recovery.
“They are getting more dialed in to this every time this camp is run,” she wrote. “I witnessed campers taking advantage of the rainer first days by settling into the cabins with their feet propped up for recovery. Without access to internet and cell phones, rest came easier!”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.