In the middle of October part of the Prep/Comp Team headed down to Park City, Utah for a short Fall training camp. The event was the Schutzenski Festival, a nordic festival that involves nordic, biathlon, and running races all happening simultaneously with a fun atmosphere that is welcoming for everybody! This camp is held in conjunction with the US Ski Team and US Biathlon Team's annual Fall altitude camp where both national teams are in Park City to take advantage of some high elevation and great training conditions! All of the professional teams from around the country also hold training camps at the same time to collaborate with the national team including the Sun Valley Gold Team, BSF Pro Team, Craftsbury Green Racing Project, Stratton Mountain T2 Team, and others. All of the best Junior skiers from all around the country are also there for the National Training Group October Camp, which is essentially the junior national team. So...there is a ton of high performance nordic energy going on at this time!
We run our own training camp to take advantage of the rollerski races and training conditions they are all there for, and also to get some inspiration from skiing alongside the fastest skiers in the country. This year we took an awesome group of kids down to Park City and did some distance rollerskiing, runs in the snowy aspen trees in the Wasatch Range, and competed against a lot of strong Junior and Senior racers. We had some standout performances from lots of athletes including Sam Hutchinson who won the junior 6k skate distance rollerski race, Abby Murphy and Kaya Kandolin who placed 4th and 7th in the 6k, and Nate Streubel who skied to 29th place in the stacked senior 10k classic race! Nate, Sam, Abby, Kaya, and Ryan Thompson all qualified for the sprint heats the following day in addition to Lucas Wilmot and Lena Poduska who were both down there already attending the USST National Training Group camp. Lena qualified for the senior heats and skied extremely well in a stacked heat including numerous world cup skiers and pro athletes! All of the athletes had a great experience and learned a ton, it was great watching them get inspired and progress so much in their technique skiing on the Soldier Hollow rollerski track! This is one of the highlights of the year and it is definitely something we will attend for years to come!
Junior Team Starts!
The Junior Team, our group of middle school-aged athletes, started training in October and has been having a blast! Head Coach George Cartwright and the whole staff of Junior Team coaches have been doing an awesome job getting the athletes psyched and training for the ski season! The juniors have been doing a lot more skate rollerskiing this year than last year, taking advantage of the fleet of rollerskis we purchased for the team last year. They have also been fitness testing including the mile time trial, the Canadian strength test, and an uphill run on High School Butte! Junior coaches were particularly impressed with the athletes effort in the mile time trial, where every single one of the Juniors ran the mile in less than 8 minutes, which has never been seen before! In between it all they have been having a ton of fun playing games, doing relays, and just building their sense of team heading into the winter. We have also held a few joint practices with the Prep/Comp and Junior teams where the older athletes have mentored the younger ones, leading to big feelings of camaraderie and team building. These practices are just as beneficial to the older athletes in that it helps them learn more about training and coaching and gets them to think more critically about their own skiing and technique. Many of the Juniors participated in summer training opportunities throughout the year and they have seen a huge benefit from the work they put in during the summer months. We are going to have a really strong Junior Team this year and I am looking forward to seeing them all ski well this winter!
Fall Training & Thanksgiving Camp
The Prep/Comp Team has continued to train hard this month with an eye on the ski season approaching fast! One highlight this month has been our individual athlete meetings that we hold in the Fall to talk about the upcoming season and recap their progress throughout the summer and early fall! We hold two sets of one-on-one athlete meetings over the course of the year and have the athletes complete a goal setting exercise where they think about what they want to accomplish this season and think about the steps they need to take to get there. This is an integral part of our program and it is one of the most transferrable skills that we teach that can apply to every single child later in their lives.
On the athletic side of the spectrum we have also done a lot of great workouts focusing on speed development, higher intensity interval training, and strength building heading into the winter. This is the time of year that we really start to focus on race pace efforts and getting our top gear in shape for the race season ahead! In addition to the high intensity training we have continued to hold longer distance workouts, with one highlight being a combo double pole distance ski into Grand Teton National Park capped off with a run around Jenny Lake, which took place on a free Friday from school. On our longer volume weeks we have been doing distance workouts and L3 intervals verified by blood lactate testing, which is a surefire way to test if athletes are training at the correct intensity zone. This method has been gaining more traction in higher level endurance sport exemplified by the Ingebritsens in middle distance running, who test their blood lactate very often throughout their training sessions to make sure they are not training too hard. This is a more accurate way than heart rate to determine intensity zones and it shows the direct results of training intensity in the athletes bloodstreams. We are capping the month off with our final Test Week of the year and so far we have seen tons of PRs and fast times, which bodes well for the performances of the athletes looking forward to the competition season.
The winter kicks off whenever the snow falls, but we are looking ahead to getting on skis as soon as possible! Our first major on snow event is our annual Thanksgiving Camp at Turpin Meadows Ranch, where we will get the run of the place for the whole week of Thanksgiving. Cross your fingers and start to think snow! We are hoping for bomber conditions like last year which will allow us to put the final touches on our preparations heading into the winter race season! This is one of the high points of the entire year for the Prep/Comp team and we are really looking forward to it.