USST Puts National Training Group Through the Paces

Audrey ManganAugust 29, 2012
Members of the National Training Group during a threshold workout at Soldier Hollow last week. Photo: Matt Whitcomb/U.S. Ski Team.

Members of the U.S. Ski Team’s National Training Group (NTG) spent last week in Park City, Utah, for a training camp centered on group training and exposure to the resources at the Center of Excellence. Athletes joined interval sessions with the national team on the rollerski track at Soldier Hollow and underwent a series of physiological tests for assessment and feedback on their development.

The camp was a new addition over last year’s schedule; the result of a decision by USST coaches to further focus on development.

“Back in the spring we sat down and decided that we’d put in another camp into our development pipeline specifically for this NTG and have them come out to Park City with the intent to get them into the COE,” said Bryan Fish, USST development coach.

Quality training was the camp’s primary goal, but with the COE nearby athletes were also able to work with the USST’s staff of physiology, strength and nutrition experts.

“The feedback we got was very positive; the athletes felt like they got a lot of education out of being here,” Fish said. “We could send them home with test results and feedback, which we provided to their club coaches, on areas where they’re strong, areas where they can improve.”

Emily Hannah, Marion Woods and Mary O’Connell. Photo: Matt Whitcomb/U.S. Ski Team.

Over the course of the week, Fish said the workouts and test results he saw were encouraging.

“What I’m seeing in the REGs and the J2 camp is that our athletes are indeed getting more fit and more prepared, tactically and technically. We’re seeing that in the physiology results that come in house,” Fish said. “For us, from the national team coaching staff, what we saw was hugely positive. It’s a testament to the clubs and these athletes that we’re training more; training better.”

One such workout to provide positive feedback were threshold skate intervals at Soldier Hollow, which the NTG athletes completed alongside resident national team athletes across multiple disciplines — cross country, nordic combined and biathlon were all represented in the same workout.

“Our general premise, from my perspective, is to get our best athletes together on occasion to train and compete,” Fish said. “They don’t have to train together 24/7 but getting together and going head-to-head they all learn and they all improve.”

With most of the U.S. nordic combined team, biathlete Jeremy Teela and several U.S. cross-country athletes on the course with the NTG skiers at the same time, the threshold workout got “kinda frisky,” said nordic combined skier Billy Demong.

“With all these cross country skiers and our guys, we went a little harder than we planned.”

Too fast or no, Fish thought the collaboration was a valuable experience.

“There’s a part of the training that’s intensity-based and another that’s tactical,” he said. “There’s a balance, and I feel you have to let a little bit of that go and train like you’d race. It was a prime opportunity to get in good tactical training on the Soldier Hollow courses, and for the most part they did a good job.”

Billy Demong leading the pack through the flats during threshold. Photo: Bryan Fish/U.S. Ski Team.

National Training Group Park City Camp Roster:


Emily Hannah (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club)

Mary O’Connell (SSWSC)

Becca Rorabaugh (Alaska Pacific University)

Marion Woods (Alaska Winter Stars)

Jesse Knori (Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation)

Nichole Bathe (Central Cross Country)

Heidi Halvorsen (Green Mountain Valley School)


Ryan Scott (Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Team HomeGrown)

Will Wicherski (Williams College)

Patrick Caldwell (Stratton Mountain School)

Eli Hoenig (Cambridge Sports Union)

Cal Deline (SSCV)

Adam Martin (CXC)

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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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