U.S. moguls squad wraps up Colorado camp
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
It may sound a bit obvious, but mogul skiers can’t start training without snow – a lot of snow. That’s why, normally, the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team has a hard time getting in the work it needs heading into the competition season while preparing on stateside slopes.
“You pretty much need three feet of snow to be able to make competition-size moguls,” said Garth Hager, one of the team’s World Cup moguls coaches. “It’s hard to get enough snow early in the season, and it’s hard to find the right type runs we need for the training.”
And this season, the U.S. team decided to shorten up its annual Colorado camp – only to have a storm dump fresh snow nearly everyday.
“We had half a foot to a foot of snow each night, and we started to wonder if we should’ve planned on staying longer,” Hager said with a laugh.
The national team wrapped up its stay in Colorado this week, after spending five straight days on a mogul course at Vail Resort and doing some off-snow work at the Breckenridge Recreation Center. While the team officially broke camp Thursday, a number of its athletes are “hanging around” the county through Thanksgiving, Hager said, splitting their time on the slopes between Vail and Copper Mountain.
The time at the Breck gym has become an annual part of the team’s early season preparation ever since Breck resident Scott Rawles took over as head coach several years back.
The athletes spend the mornings on the hill, fine-tuning their skiing, working on their latest jumps and making sure they are in top form for the season.
Afterward, the team has full sessions at the rec center, doing everything from heavy lifting to minor cardio workouts. Several athletes even took part in some of the center’s drop-in classes on Tuesday night.
“Most of our athletes are shifting toward their in-season maintenance programs and some are finishing up there hard-core workouts,” Hager said. “We’re trying to taper everything off heading into the season so that they’re fresh and can perform at their best.”
Hager said roughly half the team participated in the camp, mostly the athletes from Colorado and Utah. The smaller group, he said, helped athletes get more one-on-one work with coaches. And for most of the team, it was their last chance to get serious work in before heading to Europe.
“They were able to get a lot done,” Hager said. “They definitely prefer having that type of coach-to-athlete ratio to work on things.”
After Thanksgiving, 12 of the team’s athletes will head overseas to prepare for the World Cup season. The first WC event of the year is Dec. 11 in Suomu, Finland, and the World Championships will be held in Dear Valley, Utah, in February.
“Yeah, we’re expecting a big year, especially from the girls’ side,” Hager said.
Even with the loss of Shannon Bahrke, who won a bronze medal in Vancouver last year, the team still returns three World Cup winners from last season on the women’s team, and the men have reigning world champion Patrick Deneen and bronze medalist Bryon Wilson.
The team’s particularly excited to have the season’s biggest event, the World Championships, on home soil.
“We’re looking to put on a show,” Hager said.
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