FILE UNDER -- Freestyle

Aerialists tune up tricks and techniques at summer camp

Aerialists tune up tricks and techniques at summer camp{mosimage}PARK CITY, Utah — U.S. aerialists are “starting all over” for the preseason and for the Olympic cycle leading to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, according to coach Matt Christensen.

The back-to-basics approach is an annual step for the aerialists, Christensen said, but there is a bit more urgency to be more precise, he said. The current camp at Utah Olympic Park and the ski team’s conditioning facility — coming on the heels of a one-week conditioning camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista outside San Diego — will run until the end of the month.

“This is a building stage. We’re starting all over,” Christensen said Sunday night. “All I’m looking at is 2010 and we’re building for that. We’re doing it right — educate the athletes, work on basics, bring in a trampoline coach for Park City camps rather than send the team to Toronto.”

In one change, Christensen’s longtime lieutenant and conditioning coach, Darcy Downs, retired to spend more time with his growing family by coaching the Canadian moguls team and reducing his travel.
Replacing him is 2002 Olympian Brian Currutt, who retired after the 2003 season. “It was tough to lose Darcy because he brought so much to his coaching and to the athletes, but to have ‘Curdog’ step right in is so great. I couldn’t tell you who’s more stoked to have him with us — the athletes or the coaches,” Christensen said. “He’s awesome. He’s helped light a fire under the athletes.”

Allison Tanaka, a staff member at the Skyriders Trampoline layout in Toronto, spent three days with the team, “keeping everyone bouncing. It’s all new for many of the kids on the ski team — no one’s tired, waiting for this to be over, so it’s energizing — and it’s very productive.

“We’re doing double sessions every day — morning and late afternoon, so it’s a long day. When we’re not in a camp mode, the athletes are on a strength program on their own with Zach [Weatherford, conditioning coach],” Christensen said.

The San Diego camp was “basically Conditioning 101 — learning why we do it, so the athletes understand why they do certain exercises, and what it does for them.” The athletes also had mandatory surf sessions, he said, “so we didn’t spend all the time in the Training Center.”

Christensen said he was highly impressed with Olympian Emily Cook, who went into the spring pondering whether to continue or take a year off to complete classes at the University of Utah. “It’s the best I’ve seen Emily since her return” in summer ’04 after more than two years of rehabbing traumatic foot injuries shortly before the 2002 Olympics. “She’s working at getting to a triple-twisting double” with three twists, two flips, he said, as are Jana Lindsey and Lacy Schnoor.

In addition, Olympian Ryan St. Onge, who’s won three of the last four U.S. aerials titles, is at work boosting his repertoire. “Ryan loves to jump — like ‘Bergy’ [recently retired former Olympic, World Cup and worlds champ Eric Bergoust] was — and he’s got at least one more Olympics, so he’s working on things that make him better. He’s also working on classes at Westminster College in Salt Lake, so he’ll jump a lot this summer but he won’t train quite as much as usual,” the coach said.


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