U.S. moguls team peaks at elevation
With only a few short months before the first FIS Freestyle World Cup of the season, the moguls squad can be found chasing the snow in the lower hemisphere.
The midsummer camp at El Colorado provides an opportunity for athletes, such as Olympic gold medalist Hannah Kearney and U.S. Champion Heather McPhie, to take their summer ramping and trampoline training to the snow. The next and final preseason camp in Zermatt, slated for Sept. 24 – Oct. 11, will aim to get athletes in the competition mindset.
"On a good day, Chile is the best training scenario available," said Garth Hager. "The energy and enthusiasm the athletes bring to this camp is contagious and everyone is feeding off of it. The athletes have been organizing and cooking together by rooms, which builds unity and sometimes comedy."
The main goal of this camp is transitioning the tramps and ramps skills acquired over the summer to on-snow success. El Colorado offers wintery snow and the near-perfect terrain for that undertaking. The challenge for the athletes is recovery as they are sleeping at an elevation of 10,000 feet and training at over 11,000.
"I have been to Chile with the U.S. Freestyle Team every summer since 2002, with the exception of the past two years. It is great to be back," said Kearney. "We are lucky to have winter conditions and a full mogul course in August. As I have not skied a mogul since Nationals, it feels wonderful to be back on snow, where we put our gym and water ramp training to use."
A powder day lent to an easy course build and a soft conditions for athletes to get up to speed.
"Isolated in a hotel at the El Colorado Ski Resort for two weeks, above the tree line, there are very few distractions or sources of entertainment for that matter," Kearney added. "Our only job is to train, which is a luxury. We do find time to cook hearty meals, play ping pong and make videos. I couldn't think of anywhere I would rather be right now."
"We arrived in El Colorado, Chile and to our surprise the mountain was the barest we had ever seen it," said Eliza Outtrim. "Luckily, a storm came in immediately, bringing us lots of fresh powder and providing us great conditions to build possibly the best course we have ever had down here. It's been three years since we've had a training camp at El Colorado and I'm truly excited to be back."
Photos: K.C. Oakley and Garth Hager