August 13, 2007
QUEENSTOWN, N.Z. - (USSA News Release) - Being greeted with an eight-inch snowfall on your first day in Kiwi country raises competitive spirits. It also helps set the stage for the women's alpine team's two-week, back-to-basics training camp which also welcomed back World Championships medalist Lindsey Kildow (Vail, CO), who missed the end of last season with a knee injury, and Olympic champion and Worlds medalist Julia Mancuso (Olympic Valley, CA). The camp opened at Roundhill Ski Area last week and will conclude later this month at Coronet Peak.
The camp, focusing on technical skiing, i.e., slalom and giant slalom, is the first time on snow for the women since a speed camp at California's Mammoth Mountain in May. Technique work is a vital step as skiers begin their progression toward in-season racing form. "I'm a little rusty on my slalom," said Olympian Kaylin Richardson (Edina, MN). "So, it's been very good for me."
"It's always important to give them a break after a long season. They had all winter on snow and then got a break in the spring. So, now they come to snow again and the girls are fired-up," Head Coach Patrick Riml said.
"We're doing a lot of fundamentals. We had five days in Mammoth in May and had some outstanding speed work. We couldn't set a downhill course at Roundhill, but the girls did a lot on the elements of glide turns, some jumps, gliding, skiing rollers at Mammoth. We'll get back to a full-length downhill in Portillo (Chile) next month."
Riml is pleased with Mancuso and Kildow. Mancuso missed last preseason training while recuperating from hip surgery following the 2006 Olympics while Kildow is on snow for the first time since injuring her right ACL in slalom training during the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships in February, where she won two silver medals.
"Lindsey's knee is holding up well; she prepared herself for coming back and she's working through her progressions," he said. "Jules didn't have any preseason camps last year, so she missed a lot of training. Now she's getting the training and she's figuring out her equipment set-up. She's really fired up to be on snow this summer."
Richardson: ...we can go faster"
"I skied four days in April and haven't skied since, so it was especially good for me," added Richardson, the reigning U.S. downhill and combined champion who is becoming a full-scale four-event racer. "We took a look at all the basics - 'What's my stance (on skis)? What's my position?' And then, after we've worked on fundamentals, when we get into the (start) gate, the tempo changes and we can go faster. We had one thing to focus on - maybe skiing rounder (around the gates) now, and then going faster.
"It's good for me to get out of my comfort zone when I'm skiing. You get used to it and then you really do start skiing faster; it becomes more second nature."
Besides, Richardson said, skiing fast in preseason is not necessarily an indication of how you'll ski in winter. "If you're really going fast in August, it almost doesn't matter," she reasoned. "You want to be fast in December and January, in February and March...
"You have to re-establish your technique. You want to get to the point where you're skiing on auto-pilot."
In addition to Kildow, Mancuso and Richardson, others taking part in the two-part camp include: Jessica Kelley (Starksboro, VT), Lauren Ross (Stowe, VT), Stacey Cook (Mammoth Mountain, CA), Resi Stiegler (Jackson Hole, WY), Megan McJames (Park City, UT) and Caroline Lalive (Steamboat Springs, CO).
Lalive, McJames impressing the coaches
Riml was enthusiastic about the way Lalive - the senior member of the women's squad - and McJames, one of the youngest, are skiing. Lalive missed the second half of the 2006 Olympic season and all of last winter while recovering from an injury to her left knee, suffered, coincidentally, on the day she was nameed to her third Olympic Team in January 2006.
"She just turned 28 but she's the oldest on the Team, now that (Kirsten Clark - Raymond, ME) has retired. Caroline's such a good team member. She's fun and she's pushing it hard," he said.
"She's excited to be back on snow and not have any medical issues. You can see her progress every day...and Megan, who's 19 and one of our hopes for the future, is skiing really well. She's hanging out with the big guns and she'll get more World Cup starts, but her focus is competing well in Europa Cups. That's a level you can't jump over; it's so competitive and you learn so much in those races."
The next camp begins after Labor Day in Portillo, Chile, with both tech (slalom/GS) and speed (downhill/super G) athletes participating in the two-week block of training.