With the ski season just over the lip of the horizon, Mammoth’s top junior skiers are on the snow, sharpening their edges, training hard and reaching for the stars.
First among the athletes was Bryce Eller, who this month returned from 14 days in Chile, where he joined eight members of the U.S. Development Team for on-snow training in La Parva.
It was, said Mammoth Mountain Ski Team coach Kevin Francis, more than just an enlightening experience. It was grueling, disciplined and technical, all rolled into a single two-week camp.
“This was an incredible experience for Bryce to train with the country’s best junior racers (under 20),” Francis said. “He was able to compare his times daily and learn what it takes to be the best. The conditions were excellent for working on technique and tactics and testing equipment.”
Meanwhile, junior skiers Kirk Carlson and Tyler Wallasch are on their way to Mt. Hood, Ore., to train on snow with the best juniors from the Western U.S.
The focus of this camp will be slalom technique and tactics. Mammoth Ski Team Coach Ali Bombardier will accompany these athletes to the Pacific Northwest.
For Eller, in Chile, this was a true test of training.
The focus of the camp was downhill and super-G training on winter snow, Francis said.
“The athletes worked on speed elements, terrain, high-speed turns and jumping,” he wrote in an e-mail. “The training conditions were excellent with hard fast snow and 13 of 14 days sunny and cold.”
He said a training day consisted of 5:30 a.m. wakeup and morning run/warm-up. On the snow at 6:45 a.m. for warm-up runs and drills, it was on to gate training at 9 a.m.
Most days a second session of technical training (slalom and GS) started at 11:30 a.m. The afternoon consisted of dryland training at 3 o’clock, (core, flexibility, strength and recovery on bikes and in the pool). At 5:30 the athletes watched video analysis with the coaches of the development team, Randy Pelkey and Ian Garner, along with Francis.
Eller also spent hours in the wax room preparing his skis with a sharp edge to hold on to the hard snow and analyzing the right use wax.
To help the athletes with nutrition, Francis said, the U.S. Development Team hired local chefs to make lunch and dinner for the athletes each day with a focus on high carbohydrate intake and a balance of protein and fat and other nutrients to make sure the boys were in top physical condition for training each day.