The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team’s Pat Deneen (Cle Elum, WA) is on the road coaching and training in the lead up to the kickoff of the World Cup season, which begins Dec. 13 in Moscow. The following is a personal account from Deneen on a trip from Mt. Hood in OR to Whistler during the month of August before the team headed to Chile.
After spending three weeks on the Palmer Snowfield at Mt. Hood in June I felt the urge to head north to Blackcomb. The flats and the airs were great training at Hood but the bumps were not as well formed as I would like. My teammates Jay Bowman-Kirigin (Salt Lake City, UT) and Bryon Wilson (Butte, MT), who had been at Hood with me, were heading north to coach for Nick Preston. I knew that David Babic (Washington, VT) was running Mogul Logic and Sho Kashima (South Lake Tahoe, CA) was coaching with him. I was offered a chance to coach for the Glen Eddy’s Planet Ski International and the Killington Mountain School with Matt Gnoza (Mendon, VT) and took them up on it. I had it figured that I could get a week of training as well as a week of coaching.
I had not trained on the Blackcomb Glacier for five years and was looking forward to seeing the bears again on the chair rides. After a ten-hour drive, we arrived at The Aspin’s where we were staying. Blackcomb is nothing like Government Camp at Hood. At Blackcomb we had a great condo with a pool and a short walk to the chair. It takes three chair rides, a bus ride and a T-Bar to get to the top of the glacier but it was worth it as the mogul course was set up great.
At Blackcomb I met up with former U.S. Freestyle Ski Team member Tony Gilpin (Tony G!) (Belgrade, MT). In the spring of 1999 Tony had introduced me to the art of skiing fast in the bumps. Back then Tony worked with me in a blowing rain storm for hours showing me “The Line” and how to ski it fast…, a lesson that I have never forgotten! Now years later Tony and I worked together on my turns in The Line quieting my upper body which is allowing me to pick up some more speed. It was good to hook up with Tony again – a great skier and a good friend.
After a week of training in the bumps I switched my emphasis to coaching. Killington shared a lane with Carrabassett Valley Academy where Dave DiGravio (Farmington, ME) and his dad Ron were coaching. I worked with Matt from Killington Mountain School coaching his athletes. The sun was out, the kids were great, and we got a lot done. We worked flats, we worked bumps and we worked airs. I can tell you this: the future of freestyle skiing in the U.S. is in good hands as all of these young athletes are committed to the sport, working hard, and improving quickly. The kids listened to everything that we said and had good questions. You could see these young skiers get better every day! If Glen and Matt will have me I would love to go back again next summer.
In the end I had a great week of training in the bumps and even a better week working with the next generation of freestyler’s skiers.
Next: Back to Hood to meet up with the Wasatch, Park City, White Pass, Alberta, and Squaw Valley Freestyle teams for another 10 days of training and coaching.