Spring has sprung and that means ski teams across the country are taking advantage of the last patches of snow still remaining and holding late-season training camps. Squaw Valley, Calif., the self-proclaimed “spring skiing capital,” decided to build a speed skiing paradise and bring in hometown hero and reigning World Championship downhill silver medalist Travis Ganong for a one-of-a-kind opportunity for local athletes to learn speed fundamentals from one of the fastest downhillers in the world.
The inaugural Travis Ganong School of Speed camp took place last weekend with over 100 athletes in attendance. Ganong also brought in special guest coaches with former U.S. Ski Teamer Nick Daniels and former nationally-ranked speed skier and Jamaican skicross Olympian Errol Kerr sharing their vast knowledge with the eager campers.
“Having Travis put some time into it and put his name on it basically tripled the athlete count which was awesome to have that much outreach,” said Squaw Valley Ski Team Athletic Manager Eric Garayoa. “The terrain was amazing and the venue was just unbelievable.”
The venue, located on Squaw’s upper mountain underneath the iconic Siberia chair, contained enough jumps, rollers, compressions, and fall-away turns for all skill levels to learn the basics of speed skiing in a controlled and safe environment.
One jump, two jump, three jump four! Rollers, compressions, fall away turns! What an amazing venue. Thanks to all the kids that came out to the inaugural #travisganongschoolofspeed Also big thanks to the Squaw Valley Ski Team and coaches, and @squawalpine ski area for being the best training ground for future @americandownhiller ‘s.
“It was cool introducing speed elements and jumps to some kids for the first time,” Ganong said. “Even the ones who had been racing speed for a while were really scared and nervous about jumps and terrain.”
Introducing young racers to speed skiing fundamentals has been a cornerstone of skill development in the Far West division for decades, and it is undoubtedly working as athletes like Ganong, Marco Sullivan, Julia Mancuso, Eric Arvidsson, Bryce Bennett, Keith Moffat, and Daniels have all gone on to achieve success on the international stage in downhill and super G in recent years.
“Ski racing is so much more than just turing through gates,” Ganong added. “Terrain management and jumps are super important and also really fun! It’s nice to bring back my skills from the World Cup downhill tour and inspire and teach the next generation.”
Ganong and Squaw Valley hope to grow the School of Speed in coming years to include multiple sessions, as well as increase their outreach to include athletes that may not be from the Lake Tahoe area.
Cover photo courtesy of Travis Ganong (Instagram)