BEND, Ore. — On Wednesday, the U.S. Ski Team (USST) headed out to ski with some Bend springtime essentials: klister (they were classic skiing), shorts or tights, tank top, sunglasses and SPF 30.
In Bend for an on-snow camp — the first of the 2016/2017 season — the USST is focused on high-volume training loads and an opportunity to fine-tune technique.
As the team gathered in Mt. Bachelor’s nordic lodge, USST women’s coach Matt Whitcomb cued up a video for the team to view. For three minutes it was silence as the they observed World Cup footage of master cross-country technicians — no surprise that one skier highlighted was Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby. On view and dissected by Whitcomb’s keen eye was the ugly-duckling of moving up steeps while classic skiing: the herringbone.
After Whitcomb summarized what he saw as the key herringbone take-aways, the team hit the sun and snow.
The men’s team was up first, cycling up and down a steep and sustained section of track. Whitcomb explained the portion of trail they had chosen for the technique session was reflective of some tricky trail sections in Falun, Sweden, where skiers must transition quickly from striding to herringboning and back to striding.
Erik Bjornsen, fresh off a World Cup campaign where he showed improved results in the later half of the season, worked with head coach Chris Grover on the finer points of uphill efficiency. Equipped with iPads, the coaches were able to video each skier and provide real-time feedback.
During the technique drill, Ian Torchia, the newly minted USST development team member and Northern Michigan University student-athlete, benefited from mirroring USST veteran Andy Newell’s refined classic skiing. After skiing behind Newell, Torchia spoke with USST Development Coach Bryan Fish, who offered concrete suggestions to tweak his skiing.
As the men’s team skied off, the women trickled in and began their technique drills. USST A-team member Sadie Bjornsen worked closely with Whitcomb, focusing on driving her knee forward and to “bound” as she high-tempoed up the track.
Bend Camp is historically a time for skiers and coaches to review logistics for the coming year and begin the process of waking the body up. It’s also at camps like this where the coaching staff can observe skiers early in the training season and provide advice as they head back to their home clubs to work with non-USST coaches.
After wrapping up the session, FasterSkier caught up with Jessie Diggins and Newell. Diggins has turned a corner in terms of her sprint and distance skiing; she ranked eighth overall this season on the World Cup. Loving the day with the sun and snow, Diggins noted it’s good to be back in Bend.
Newell, who only months ago mulled retirement or a reduced World Cup schedule, said he was rejuvenated and glad to be skiing in May and motivated for the grind ahead.
The USST will remain in Bend for another week of on-snow training.