THE LAB: Former U.S. Ski Team downhiller Doug Lewis didn’t have to think long about where he’d stage a citizen’s downhill race—and pre-competition race clinic—on his home hill. Indeed, the highlight for participants in his weeklong speed-event camp is competing on the same course Franz Klammer, Pirmin Zurbriggen and other World Cup stars skied when it was part of the King of the Mountain pro downhill series back in the ’90s. For his amateur event, Lewis took out the 100-foot air over an SUV near the bottom, but otherwise it’s the same track, professionally designed with both challenge and safety in mind.
THE CURRICULUM: Legally skiing at speeds exceeding 70 mph? It’s a rare opportunity for anyone with a serious speed jones. The focus is on super G tactics for the first two days, then downhill on Days Three and Four. There’s a citizen’s downhill race on Saturday, open to anyone with a helmet and long skis. Lewis puts campers through the racecourse in sections first, helping them gain confidence and build speed progressively. Coaches line the course and offer feedback. Each day typically includes two video sessions. Instruction
topics include course inspection, line selection and speed-skiing techniques.
THE INSTRUCTORS: Lewis, bronze medalist at the 1985 Bormio World Championship downhill, knows what he’s talking about from World Cup experience. (Ask him for a Bill Johnson story from the Sarajevo Olympics.) His wife, Kelley, who raced a couple World Cup downhills for the Canadian team, is co-coach. Alumni from the nearby Green Mountain Valley School ski academy round out the staff.
THE VIBE: The camp attracts a small but hardcore crowd of mostly middle-aged men who are serious enough about speed to have all the specialized equipment: helmet, speed suit and downhill or super G skis running to lengths of 215 cm and up. Many are regular USSA Masters racers; most are regulars at Northeast speed events open to the public; few exhibit any signs of discomfort with the notion of tucking straight down the fall line.
DATES: Feb. 2-4, 2010
PRICE: $90 per day or $260 for all three days of the clinic.
INFO: sugarbush.com; 866-651-4827. Also check out twist-racing.com, the unofficial website of Northeast