The following comes from a National Nordic Foundation (NNF) press release, in which U.S. Ski Team Development Coach, Bryan Fish answers questions on the Regional Elite Group Camps:
NNF: What is the REG? What should people know about it?
BF: The Regional Elite Group (REG) includes four camps – one in each region: East, Central, West, and Alaska. These camps take place between the June and July each year. The Western and Eastern REG camps are now complete. Central REG starts July 5th in Cable, Wisconsin and Alaska REG kicks off on July 14th in Anchorage.
Each region sets their own qualification criteria with the target of bringing together their best 16-19 year old athletes to train together. REG is arguably the best opportunity for the U.S. Ski Team staff to collaborate with junior development coaches in each region.
NNF: What goes on at these camps? What do you try to make happen here?
BF: There are two major goals of REG. First and foremost, we try to provide a high quality-training environment. The goal is to build a team atmosphere where we live together, train together, appropriately push one another, and learn from each other.
REG embodies one of our key national team focal points: collaboration – both athletes and coaches. Our intent is to provide ski specific technique support as well as outlining essential factors on what it takes for developing athletes to make it to the next level. We direct much of this emphasis toward the international development pillar projects that NNF supports, since the next level for many of these athletes are the trips like the U18 trip and Junior World Ski Championships.
Secondly, the REG camps name athletes to the National Elite Group (NEG) through head-to-head competition of general athletic traits as well as overall ski performance from the last winter. NEG is a second opportunity for juniors of this age group to qualify for a National Development Camp. To clarify, National Training Group (NTG) is named solely based off of top domestic and international ski results. The goal of the national camps is to then bring the top regional athletes together for national projects.
NNF: What role do regional coaches play in REG?
BF: The local and regional coaches lead and coach alongside the U.S. Ski Team staff. Theses coaches carry out most of the work including selection of camp location, organization (lodging, meals, transportation), communications, and most of the hands-on coaching. The regional coordinators (Mike Elliott-West, Janice Sibilia-East, Yuriy Gusev-Central and Pete Leonard-Alaska) collaborate with the U.S. Ski Team staff to create the camp schedule.
Thanks to all the efforts and hard work of the coaches and coordinators within the regions, the REG projects have been a vibrant, valuable and vital step in our Cross Country National Development Pipeline.
NNF: Where does the REG fit into an overall development plan?
BF: The Under-16 National Training camp fits directly under the Regional Elite Group camps. The U16 National camp invites approximately 50 athletes aged 14-15 years old. The REG camps invite approximately 90 athletes total. The next step up the rung is the NEG and NTG projects. These national projects are smaller in size naming approximately 40 athletes total.
There is a small overlap between each rung of the ladder to allow multiple opportunities as well as to try to ensure athletes don’t “slip through the cracks.” The goal of U16 National camp as well as REG is to have a relatively large group size to expose and retain more junior athletes in cross country skiing.