If you already train in the Rockies, taking a 2-hour flight (or a heck of a long drive) to another part of the Rockies might seem a little nuts.
But the Canadian biathlon team is getting used to doing an autumn camp in Park City, Utah – a jump south from their usual base in Canmore, Alberta.
“My favourite workouts around Park City have always been the long climbs in the area,” wrote Brendan Green, a longtime national team member. “It’s so easy to get to a high altitude on really good quality roads and climbs which is awesome. This is definitely something we lack around Canmore, so I try to make the most out of every opportunity I have to climb.”
And in terms of places you can go to get some solid rollerski and running climbing in, Park City is actually pretty convenient for the Canmore-based team.
“It’s the same time zone, no jet lag, a 2 hour flight for the athletes, and the last sunny and warm period before winter starts,” Canadian Head Coach Matthias Ahrens wrote in an email.
With that setup, the goal for the team was to get in a big block of volume training at altitude before heading towards race season.
“It’s the last volume camp before intensity block in Canmore,” Ahrens explained. “There’s good altitude differentials with long sustained uphill climbs for rollerskiing.”
They also took advantage of the Canadian cross-country team being in the same spot, and did a ski-bounding workout with the skiers early in the camp.
“The joint session with XC was an uphill bounding / striding intensity session down in Salt Lake City,” Green wrote in an email. “Every workout we can do with XC I think is really beneficial for us – It’s great for us to be pushed by guys like Alex [Harvey], Devon [Kershaw], and Ivan [Babikov]. I really hope this is something we can do more of in the future.”
While that was the only joint training session, the cross-country and biathlon coaches also did a mountain bike ride together on the athletes’ off day to chat and consider more joint planning.
“Last year we had the opportunity to do some sessions with the U.S. biathletes but this year unfortunately they were not there at the same time,” Ahrens wrote.
Besides the volume focus, Green was working on a few other issues stemming from a disc injury in his back a few years ago.
“I’m still working through some issues with my back but I have been trying a few different treatments,” he wrote. “I hope that I’ll be able to manage the pain better in the upcoming season and I really hope to avoid another painful season of racing like last year. I have made a few small changes to my program and areas of focus for this season. I think things are headed in the right direction but of course the real test will come when race season rolls around.”
Most of all, everyone enjoyed getting some new scenery as they put in hour after hour of training.
“We had incredible weather for almost the entire two weeks in Park City which always makes for more enjoyable training,” Green wrote. “It is nice to get out of Canmore once in a while to break up the training routine.”
Chelsea Little is FasterSkier's Editor-At-Large. A former racer at Ford Sayre, Dartmouth College and the Craftsbury Green Racing Project, she is a PhD candidate in aquatic ecology in the @Altermatt_lab at Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. You can follow her on twitter @ChelskiLittle.