Athletes preparing for AVSC’s 78th season
The path to a new season begins early, some say the day after the old season finishes.
“If you’re a ski racer serious about achieving your competitive goals, the end of the race season simply means it’s time to start your preparations for next season,” said Dr. Jim Taylor, author of the quintessential ski racing piece, “Next Season Starts Now.”
Taylor, who writes about the psychology of performance, added, “After a short period of rest and relaxation, say, a week or two, you need to begin your planning and your training that will get you ready to continue your progress toward your goals next winter.”
Here on the cusp of the 2014-15 competitive season, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athletes have been working diligently on their fitness levels and their on-snow techniques.
A blustery spring set the stage for training on Aspen Mountain during weekends in May.
Over on the Buttermilk Glacier, on-snow camps for freestyle skiers and snowboarders stretched into early July, thanks to the wealth of stored snow. Training continued in the second half of summer at Mount Hood, venues in the Southern Hemisphere and in the AVSC backyard and weight room.
The start of the school year coincided with additional opportunities for measuring success, with top alpine and freestyle skiers undergoing a battery of tests — administered by Darlene Nolting of the USSA — in the hopes of qualifying for a Colorado Ski Country USA Gold Pass.
That same weekend, Oct. 4-5, Nordic athletes donned roller skis for a high-altitude race to the Ashcroft ghost town.
Part of a Rocky Mountain Nordic weekend hosted by AVSC that also included a 5K foot race, the camp drew 35 visiting athletes and coaches from Steamboat Springs, Vail and Boulder.
As the Summit County areas were battling to be the first to offer lift-served skiing and riding, a half-dozen Aspen skiers traveled to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for courses in nutrition, weight training, goal setting and race-day preparation.
Every year, the USOC hosts up to 15,000 athletes, representing junior, semi-elite and Paralympic sports for short-term training programs, according to Erica Hutchinson, who works in community relations.
The guests are in addition to the nearly 140 resident athletes who live and train year-round at the complex.
Lisa Perricone, AVSC alpine ability coach, accompanied the athletes to the USOC.
“We do provide a lot of opportunities for kids to get a head start on the season,” she said.
In addition, AVSC’s FIS-level and U16 skiers already have made two trips to Copper Mountain for training.
At the first camp, Perricone observed that some of the older skiers enjoyed working side-by-side with Lindsay Vonn.
“She’s the best in the world, and she was doing the same kinds of training drills that our kids were doing,” Perricone said.
An even larger AVSC contingent was back at Copper last weekend, where the U.S. Ski Team formally announced its lineup for this year.
Included on the roster were two AVSC alums, Katie Ryan and Alice McKennis.
Perricone said the presence of the national team augmented the work that the AVSC coaches were already doing.
“There were a lot of passionate people around, which helps create high-level training,” she said.
Weather permitting, early season training on Aspen Highlands’ Golden Horn run could begin Saturday.
Colder temperatures of late have allowed crews to pump out nearly 2 million gallons of water during the past two weeks on the new training area, said Cody Oates, AVSC’s venue director.
“We’re making a ton of progress with snowmaking. This week is looking really good,” he said.
In addition to local athletes who hope to test AVSC’s new venue, members of the Norwegian men’s national team are arriving Saturday for three weeks of training prior to the Dec. 5-7 Audi Birds of Prey races at Beaver Creek.
The Aspen Highlands facility, which is an integral part of AVSC’s $15 million “Securing our Future” capital campaign, will host an official grand opening that’s open to the public on Nov. 25 at the Highlands Alehouse.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.