Portillo, Chile, Sep. 5, 2001--Another snowstorm forced U.S. men's downhill Coach Dale Stephens and his staff to pull the plug early on atwo-week training at Portillo, but he was pleased with the speed work (i.e., DH/super G), which his athletes completed. The tech team inNew Zealand also hit weather woes.
"You know you're not going to be in Portillo two or three weeks and not get hit with snow, maybe some bad light, so you have to takeadvantage of the good weather -- and I think we did that," Stephens said. "This was shorter than we planned because we got hit withmore snow at the end but we didn't miss anything.
"The previous four days were probably the best downhill training we've had in the last few years. It was definitely better than a yearago; the downhill/super G side was very successful although we didn't get the quality GS giant slalom training we wanted. Still, we'lltake it."
He spoke to men's slalom/GS head coach Jesse Hunt, who was training at Treble Cone in New Zealand and the technical team, Stephenssaid. Erik Schlopy (Park City, UT), Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) and, among others, Thomas Vonn (Newburgh, NY) ran into weather problemswhich hampered their training. "Jesse wasn't 100 percent pleased with their training," he said.
Eleven athletes went to Portillo but in the second week, five aspiring World Cuppers went to LaParva for a couple of races.
World super G champion Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) and a healthy Chad Fleischer (Vail, CO) were challenged by youthful ScottMacartney (Redmond, WA), who's rebounding from injury, and Marco Sullivan (Tahoe City, CA). Jake Fiala (Frisco, CO) was the top SG skierfor the first week before going to LaParva, Stephens reported.
"Daron was working on some technical things, so he was on his own program a little, not trying to go too fast while he tested somethings, but he worked things out and when we had a competition, he showed he can put it on the line. Daron can go fast," according toStephens. "Chad had a boot question at the start, so he was playing with a few things but when he decided to bump it up, Chad skied quitewell. He still had an occasional twinge in his back, but his hip wasn't an issue at all, so he was able to get more training in, get moremiles and that's good for the future."
On the final day, the Ski Team had time trials "and Daron crushed everyone on the first run but by the third, 'Mac' Macartney put onedown that was almost as good as Daron's first run. He had the second-fastest time of the day, so it's good to see him healthy." Macartneygot an early start on spring classes at Dartmouth College last season when he suffered a concussion in midseason and injured his back,so he skipped the last month of Winter '01. "I think Mac was the biggest surprise," the coach said.
Brett Fisher (Winter Park, CO), who is rebounding from knee surgery, and Travis Svensrud (Bozeman, MT) also drew high grades fromStephens. "They started the camp slowly, but Travis was coming on pretty well at the end ... we'd been concerned they wouldn't get themiles we wanted, but by the end they were above expectation on their progress and hopefully this fall we'll have them on more of anormal program instead of remedial and the basics."
The men's speed group will head to Austria's Pitztal Glacier Sept. 21 for a 2-1/2-week camp. Stephens said Europe's glaciers generallyhave had good conditions, so he looks for another solid training session.