The Thomas Training Center which sits on the edge of Eagle Glacier, over looking Girdwood
Athletes fly rather than hike the 5,000 feet to the glacier to optimize training for the week
Keith taking us up valley
We had four guest skiers attend August camp, visiting from other top programs in the country. Here Brian Gregg, a childhood friend from Winthrop, Washington is psyched about the first day of skiing!
Not bad for the first ski of the week.....
This picture is a personal favorite and also my computer desktop right now. The black dots you see near the horizon are skiers. When Eagle Glacier is nice, it's heaven on earth - or heaven in Alaska!
Erik Flora took this picture of Bart. He did NOT use photo shop. Personally I think it's worthy of being in the next Swix catalog!
APU Girls team plus Nicole Deyong. Left to right: Greta, Katie, Nicole, Kalysta, myself, Taz, Sadie, Becca, Fitz, and Morgan!
Don't let Eagle Glacier fool you. For every blue-bird t-shirt wearing ski we had we had two or three skis in complete fog, wind, rain, or a combination of the three. Eagle glacier never lets you forget what it is - that is, a true, live and active glacier. The weather can change in five minutes and sometimes the visibility is non-existent. I've skied laps of our 6 kilometer course based on memory of the turns and guided by the orange wands that are every couple hundred of feet.
Due to conditions like the picture you see above the drying room is an ESSENTIAL element of the training facility. Basic protocol is to step inside the building after a ski and strip all the wet layers off to hang (and theoretically dry) for the next workout. It's not unusual to see teammates leave the drying room wearing only wool underwear - stop to get a granola bar from the kitchen, and retreat to their rooms to change into dry sweatpants....
In the week that we were on Eagle the snow changed considerably. August is often the last month that the glacier doesn't get considerable amounts of new snow. Therefore, by the last day of camp the snow is dirty. Here's a close up of the snow directly off the ski trail. Every day and every ski there was more snow algae and what could possibly be leftover volcanic ash from last year's explosion of Redoubt?
Here Katie and Morgan cut peppers for Fajita night. Athletes are divided up into work crews and have camp chores every day. Group dinners are often a team highlight
Erik and Casey work hard at these camps to ensure that everything goes smoothly for the athletes. I know this first hand as I am one of the few athletes who has been on Eagle to work and has also been on Eagle to train. They groom during the night so we have good skiing in the morning and spend the days setting tracks, taking video at sessions, completely endless hours of technique review with athletes - all of this on top of making sure all of our remote systems are in working order. It's impressive.
In the photo above Erik demonstrates the end of a skate motion to Jack, one of our top junior athletes that came to his second glacier camp of the summer! Erik has an amazing eye for technique detail and can dissect your every movement. He has concrete suggestions for improvement and is happy to show you example after example in World Cup and Olympic footage. He doesn't mess around.
Here Erik and Casey get to enjoy a rare ski (they are often too busy to put on skis themselves!)
At the end of the week most athletes opt to hike down from the glacier.... it's a good experience and saves the cost of an additional helicopter ride. You can expect to be sore from the 5000 foot decent. I am.
The hike involves some sensory overload, especially with the vibrant colors of the foliage. The wildflowers and lush nature of the vegetation are always a welcome sight!
All in all, the camp was incredibly productive. The training was great, I received tons of valuable feedback and technique adaptations from Erik, and I feel as though I put some serious "money in the bank." (Meaning, the work from the last week will pay dividends come winter race season.) Now it's time to make sure that I get the proper recovery before jumping back on the horse. It's difficult while work, emails, and phone calls have piled up but I'm doing my best to prioritize rest. That said, if I haven't returned your call yet, I will soon! Thanks for being patient!
Thanks for reading.... more to come,