Women’s alpine squad prepping for season at Copper Mountain
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
COPPER MOUNTAIN – A flurry of morning snow settled onto the super-G course set up on Copper Mountain’s Main Vein run Tuesday. Visibility got a little tricky, and the course got a little slow.
Still, it didn’t bother Laurenne Ross one bit, even if the U.S. Alpine Ski Team’s training session was cut a little short.
“It’s kind of nice having some snow. … It feels like winter again,” she said. “In the fall and summer when we’re training, it’s really slushy snow, and having the good snow here, it makes you feel like winter is finally coming.”
And for Ross and the rest of the women’s national team, the competition season is finally here. The team had its first event of the season – a World Cup giant slalom race in Soelden, Austria – in late October, and it heads to Finland this weekend for a slalom competition.
Meanwhile, the team has been training in Colorado, splitting days between Copper and Vail, for the last week or so.
Before the resort opened to the public Tuesday morning, the women’s squad did speed training, carving through a track set up from the top of Rhapsody and flowing down Main Vein. Conditions were fast and firm initially, but the snow slowed things up a bit.
“As long as you don’t let the snow distract you, it actually makes it a little easier to work on stuff,” Ross said.
And that was the goal for everyone on the team – finishing up on the fine-tuning required for racing at the highest level.
“It’s super-G training, so we’re working on tactics and also testing equipment and fine-tuning stuff,” women’s head coach Alex Hoedlmoser said. “There are a lot of different topics going on with the different athletes.”
Nearly every athlete in the women’s program was in attendance Tuesday, spanning from the “A” team all the way to the development squad. Although Lindsey Vonn was absent at Copper, three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso was there, and she said the Colorado sessions have been all about finding speed.
“Now we’re getting so close to the race season, we’re trying to get dialed in and get faster,” she said.
The conditions at Copper for early season training, Mancuso said, are just about perfect for what the team wants.
“Yeah, it’s really consistent – no rocks, even though it’s early season. They do a really good job with the snowmaking,” she said. “It’s definitely on the easier side, but sometimes easier is better if it’s in good condition. You don’t have to worry as much about people getting injured here or crashing, because it’s not as fast.”
“It’s easier for us to work on stuff because it’s a little slower,” said Ross, who, at 22, is a member of the “B” team. “Everything’s coming at us a little slower, so it’s easier to concentrate on working on our technique or working on our gliding.”
Hoedlmoser said the time at Copper gives his athletes a perfect opportunity to prepare for what’s ahead, especially the team’s younger members who get to spend their weeks watching some of the best female skiers in the world in Vonn and Mancuso.
After a promising Olympic run and a number of stellar World Cup seasons a year ago, Hoedlmoser said his team is looking for another big season.
“Of course, we’ve got to continue on where we stopped and raise the level again, because the other teams are not sleeping,” he said. “We want to be on the top of the game.”
And snow flurries or no snow flurries, that’s why the team was hard to work at Copper.
“It’s always a big part of our preparation for the season,” Hoedlmoser said. “It’s great here. We’ve been coming here for the last 10-12 years. It’s always great early season speed training. The hill’s not too challenging, so people are actually able to work on things, work on technique and figure out equipment.”
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