FILE UNDER -- Freestyle

U.S. mogul skiers wrap up snowy, sun-filled camp in Chile

U.S. mogul skiers wrap up snowy, sun-filled camp in Chile{mosimage}U.S. moguls skiers began the new Olympic cycle in South America with great snow, greater staff and athlete enthusiasm, plus terrific weather. In the end, everyone went home exhausted.

“The weather really worked well for us. Good weather can be 90 percent of a successful camp — and we got it,” head coach Donnie St. Pierre said as he reviewed the two-week preseason camp at El Colorado resort in Chile, the skiers’ first on-snow drills since the season ended in March.

“We got a full course in and below the course we had two tabletops, so they’d be getting good pitch on their landings but reduce the full impact, which helped keep everyone fresher longer. They were safe sites. We were getting something done every day, making really good progress.”

With the retirement of several veterans — Travis Mayer and Jeremy Bloom announced theirs at the Olympics in February — St. Pierre said there would be opportunities for skiers to make their move to World Cup action.

“And with the first [moguls] World Cup not until mid-December [Dec. 14 in Tignes, France], it was excellent seeing the energy everyone had, and the good conditions help relieve any stress about getting back on snow. We’ll have a camp somewhere in Colorado in November and then move into the season, and there are some obvious opportunities for these athletes…and they know it,” St. Pierre said.

He pointed to Chile newcomers Sho Kashima, the reigning U.S. dual moguls champion, and Jay Bowman-Kirigan among others, as making an impression on coaches.

“They’ve shown an incredible amount of talent — we have some great talent throughout this team — and the next step is to get them onto the World Cup because, as I’ve said so often, the best way to become a good World Cup skier is to ski on the World Cup.

“You have to be at that level, and what these young guys, both 19 — and [David] Digravio, who grabbed a world Cup podium last year when he had the chance in Japan — are showing. NorAms and regional competitions just aren’t the same kind of course, the same level of competition.”

Olympian Michelle Roark, the 2003 World Championships silver medalist in moguls, was exuberant about the camp.

“This was the best in the six years we’ve been going down there. The weather was beautiful, sunny skies every day and the snow was great. When you have 10 consecutive days of fabulous mogul skiing, you just cannot ask for anything better,” she said.

The camp began at U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association headquarters in Park City, Utah, as the moguls squad met with USSA President and CEO Bill Marolt and other top-level staff for an extended look at the workings of the organization and then candid questions and answers about USSA.

“And then we went right from there to Chile, and we’d already done our flat work, so we were able to hit the ground running, as it were,” St. Pierre said.

“We set up the course and within two days had the full course running. They’d had perfect winter snow and as we went along the mix of warm weather during the day and cold nights, day by day the course began to take on ‘World Cup firm’ [conditions]. We’d have all three coaches videotaping from different angles — even above the course, we utilized this massive rock to get footage from up high, kinda like cable-cam or shooting from a helicopter.

“Every night, we’d download the video so they’d all have their own footage from their runs.”

He laughed as he thought some minor anxieties as the staff — St. Pierre, Scott Rawles and former World Championships and World Cup skier Garth Hager, who joined the staff in the spring — looked to its first camp without techno-whiz Liz McIntyre, who retired in midsummer.

“Liz always did the work of 10 people, and we had to do it, but by the end, we were all into it. Garth, of course, is pretty computer savvy, so he took it quickly…and he even had me and Rawles knowing how to get things done, and as everyone headed home, Garth had burned a DVD so everyone could study their runs and their technique whenever they want,” St. Pierre said.


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