Team Summit freestylers head to Switzerland |

Team Summit freestylers head to Switzerland

Goodbye Summit County, hello Matterhorn!

That’s been the itinerary for eight Team Summit freestyle skiers and two coaches over the past 24 hours or so, marking the fourth straight year the local ski club has sent a freestyle contingent to Zermatt, Switzerland, for some early season on-snow training.

The benefits to doing this are twofold, TS freestyle coach John Dowling said. “Not only are they skiing next to gold medalists (Finland’s Janne Lahtela and Kari Traa of Norway, both of whom won gold at the 2002 Olympics), but the conditions we see there are very realistic, hard-snow conditions,” he said.

Dowling, who is accompanied by fellow Team Summit coach Chris Carson, took his Canadian national moguls team to Zermatt twice before he moved to Summit. During that time he realized the opportunity it provides for all skiers, not just those on national teams.

Team Summit’s group includes Whitney Henceroth, Riley Campbell, Mike Mead, Brandon Denker, Cheryl Pearson, Lane Stolzner, Jordan Poyfair and recently named U.S. Ski Team member Heather McPhie.

In addition, U.S. Teamers Michael Morse and 2002 Olympic silver medalist Travis Mayer are along for the trip with Dowling and Team Summit.

The local athletes will be training on the same terrain ” glacier snow on the Klein Matterhorn “buckelpiste” ” as national teams from Finland, France, Italy, Austria, Sweden, Norway and the United States.

Team Breckenridge alum Luke Westerlund and former Team Summit star Toby Dawson are among the U.S. Ski Team members training in Zermatt, a famously quaint mountain town in which there are no gas-operated cars.

After training in Chile for a spell over the summer, Dowling said his team is using this trip as an official kickoff to the winter season. “In Chile we got all the technical aspects in place,” he said. “Here’s where we really start putting things together and start skiing runs and get a real look at what we’re going to be doing in the year ahead.”

This season, in particular, the microscope is on freestyle skiers across the world.

“The ’06 Olympics raise the stakes for everyone on the World Cup scene and even for our aspiring athletes who now compete in Nor-Ams,” Dowling said. “While the World Cup skiers seek Olympic berths, our budding athletes look for opportunity in the inevitable team turnover after an Olympic year.”

When they return from their two-week stay in Zermatt, Team Summit’s skiers will have a week off of snow, then will begin training at Copper Mountain and Arapahoe Basin.

In Dowling’s absence, U.S. Team moguls coach and Breckenridge resident Scott Rawles will be leading the rest of Team Summit’s freestyle skiers in dryland workouts.

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