Team USA paddling to prepare for season |

Team USA paddling to prepare for season

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

FRISCO ” It was obvious when their boats hit the water that they were athletes in top condition; their powerful upper bodies pulling the paddle through the water, the kayaks cruising at a fast pace.

But it’s when they pulled up to the Frisco Bay Marina dock after their two hour training session that the differences between them and other world-class athletes became apparent.

Instead of being met by fans and photographers, they were greeted by their coach rolling them their wheel chairs.

This is how their workouts have ended for the past week, as the U.S. Disabled Cross Country Ski Team has been conducting its summer training camp in Frisco.

“As a team … everyone lives very spread out,” head coach Jon Kreamelmeyer said. “So, we get together at least three to four times a year for either lactate testing, to check their conditioning, and for training camps.”

For the second straight year, the team is doing its summer training program in Summit County, where their coach lives.

The team has been doing a dry land conditioning program, which has included roller skiing, yoga, core workouts and kayaking.

“I try to come up with something that is cardiovascular for them that isn’t hard on their elbows and shoulders, and that is why we have been paddling,” Kreamelmeyer said.

Kreamelmeyer’s training regimen has called for roughly two hours of paddling every morning, followed by roller skiing in the afternoons.

All six members of the team are sit-skiers, meaning they literally sit in a frame mounted to their skies.

Their roller skies consist of the same frame attached on top of a mountain board or skis with wheels on them.

“I spend probably 90 percent of my training hours roller skiing when I am at home,” Chris Klebl, a five-year member of the team, said. “I usually try to stick to very ski-specific stuff, but the kayaking has been interesting.”

Klebl, 36, is currently the team’s most accomplished racer. Two years ago, he finished second overall in the World Cup series and fourth last season.

Because the disabled squad has no residency program, team members must put in strenuous hours on their own time, aside from competing and meeting

for camps.

Like many of his teammates, Klebl understands the amount of training that is needed to compete at the highest level in their sport.

“I do pretty different training than most people,” said Klebl, who is traveling to New Zealand on Wednesday to do some on-snow training. “I do tons of training camps on my own. I am going to Finland in October to ski in a ski tunnel. I try to do as much as I can.”

Similar to other topflight athletes in other sports, the disabled team trains year round. Some members have had to put their lives on hold to keep up with the rigorous demands, while others have had to do the opposite.

Monica Bascio, 38, is back with the team after taking a year off to give birth to her now one-year-old son Henry.

“Coming back has been tough,” Bascio said. “It was definitely harder and slower than I thought it would be.”

Bascio, who lives in Evergreen, is hoping to get back to competitive form by the time the racing season starts in late-November.

For the team, this week’s training camp isn’t viewed in the same negative light that sports fans have been hearing NFL players speak about theirs. There aren’t any hold outs, and there are no contract disputes.

You also won’t hear any member of this ski team discussing the “adversity” that may come through playing a game for a living, because they’ve certainly seen more trying times than when they’re competing.

Sean Halstad, 37, is one of two military-veterans on the team. When a 40-foot fall from a helicopter put him in a wheel chair in 1998, he didn’t give up his passion for sports.

“I was lucky, because the [Veteran’s Administration] has a lot of rehab programs,” Halstad said. “But I got to a point with them that I was like, ‘Great, you introduced me to the sport, but now what?'”

This was when Halstad found cross country skiing and the U.S. Ski Team.

Though all the members of the team have different stories of how they were introduced to the sport, they all now are together in Summit County, training for the season that lies ahead.

“It is great to get the chance to be out here with the rest of the team,” Halstad said. “It really frees you up from everything back home so that you can really focus on where you’re at and what you need to do.”

The team will meet for an on-snow training session in Montana in November before starting competition later that month.

For more information on the team, visit

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970)668-4634 or at bevans@

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