US men focused on balance drills in New Zealand
Ten of the US Ski Team's male skiers are training in New Zealand under the watchful eye of head coach Sasha Rearick and blue sky.
“We've got blue sky and just cold enough temperatures for hard stuff,” said Rearick, noting the snow conditions had been sketchy in the weeks preceeding the arrival of the rest of the team.
“I got down here two weeks ago and we were counting snowflakes all over the south island,” he said. But thanks to the preparation staff at Cornet Peak, things starting looking up. “Hats off to the cat drivers down here. ... We've had fantastic training conditions.”
As is customary for a summer on-snow camp the focus is on fundamental elements. The squad is running a lot of balance drills and working on slalom hairpins and flush combinations. In GS there is “nothing fancy right now. We're trying to find the balance area on the new skis and getting use to the new skis. There's nothing ground breaking yet,” said Rearick, “just getting use to what they can do.”
The coach said the skis can make all the turns of those utilized last season before the FIS mandated changes. “The difference is they are much less forgiving. You have to be in balance in the right position on the skis. The problem is if you are a little bit back, or a little inside or just not fundamentally balanced on the skis they don't turn at all. ... They (the new skis) are going to make us ski better, that's for sure.”
The work from now through the start of the season will begin to pick up both pace and intensity. The speed group is preparing for a stint at LaParva with head speed coach Andy Evers set to fly to the site this coming week “to check it out.”
Rearick said the LaParva staff has been sending daily photographs to help the US coaches determine what conditions might be found. The area has been thin on snow cover, which raises a safety issue. “But the forecast is for a little snow and we do have some back up plans at other areas.”
Last season the US team found near perfect conditions in New Zealand and charged on hard snow. Come the beginning of the racing season, however, soft snow was more the rule than the exception and that bit of experience is not being forgotten.
“We train every morning on Easy Rider, a trail groomed for the public,” said Rearick. That's not the ideal scenario. It would be preferable to have watered snow as that is most commonly found on the World Cup, but once conditions allow, they'll be having those conditions duplicated. “We had a perfect situation to create that a while back, but we had just gotten off the plane and it didn't make sense.”
All in all, the coach is pleased. Several of his charges are coming off injury and need the miles on snow, and they are certainly able to get that. His chief complaint? “I'm at day 16 in a row in my (ski) boots and it's starting to get a little painful.”
Nolan Kasper photo from his Facebook page