If you’re female and a fast skier, Anchorage, Alaska is the place to be.
A group of approximately 20 women is currently residing in the northern state during a female-only training camp. Members of the United States Ski Team (USST), the USST Development Team, Alaska Pacific University (APU), and Perianne Jones and Chandra Crawford of the Canadian National Ski Team (CNST) have gathered in Anchorage for two weeks of quality training.
Headlining the American contingent at the camp are USST athletes Kikkan Randall, Liz Stephen, and Ida Sargent, as well as a number of locals from APU.
After taking a couple of days to rest and orient themselves, the Canadians have joined up with the large group of American women to train.
According to CNST coach Eric De Nys, the opportunity was one the top Canadians could not afford to miss.
“Being with a like-minded large female contingent is great for both Peri and Chandra,” he said in an interview. “They don’t get the opportunity to socialize and train with that large of a group of women very often.”
The group has several training sessions planned around Anchorage before heading up to the Eagle Glacier for a week to get some time on snow.
For the Canadians, the goal of the camp is to build on the training they conducted in Hawaii in the spring. The hours are big, but there is some intensity built into the schedule as well.
“We’re at sea level, so we’ll be working on some intensity down here, and then when we get up on the glacier we will do more distance, and mix in a bit of intensity,” said de Nys.
The Canadians are also getting some high-quality Alaskan hospitality, according to de Nys. They’re eating fresh Pacific salmon, absorbing scenic mountain runs, and being “shown the good places to train.”
De Nys is the only coach traveling with Crawford and Jones, but he is collaborating with the USST coaches Matt Whitcomb and Chris Grover, as well as APU coach Erik Flora.
While it’s an all-male staff for an all-female camp, the coaches are still a major part of the group. So much so that when Kikkan Randall made up sweatshirts with the slogan ‘North American Women’s Training Alliance,’ she made sure to include de Nys, Grover, and Whitcomb.
While the women are in Alaska, both countries’ male teams are headed to New Zealand for the traditional summer stint at the Snow Farm. Previously, the full Canadian and American national teams would head south, but this season, they opted for a change.
“Chandra was invited by Kikkan, and the U.S. had this on their plan for the year, so we joined them. It seemed to be a natural fit,” de Nys said.
The two groups collaborated in Bend,Oregon, for their first camp of the year, and the Canadians said that the resulting atmosphere made for some excellent training.
However, the current Canadian contingent in Alaska is quite small, with just Jones and Crawford making the trip.
“The camp was open to [the development team athletes], but it wasn’t in the cards,” said de Nys. “They have team camps that they are trying to do, as well. Emily [Nishikawa] and Alysson [Marshall] will come to our Whistler Camp in October.”
Following the camp, Jones will leave for a short vacation at home, while Crawford plans to stay in Alaska for an extra couple of weeks, in order to train with Randall.