Portillo, Chile, September 22--Members of the U.S. Ski Team recently returned from a two-week training stint in the Andes Mountains of Chile, where the winter season is in full swing.
Coaches and athletes alike raved about the training at Portillo this season. Last year, there was enough snow and space to house just one downhill run-this season there were three runs on the mountain. This was an important factor as the U.S. and Austrian men's speed teams were training at the same time as the women. The area received a minimal amount of new snow during the team's stay, which enabled the courses to stay in optimal icy condition.
"This was the best I've seen it (Portillo) over the past three or four times I've been down here," said U.S. women's speed coach Jim Tracy. "The athletes had a blast and we got a lot done."
The downhill course the women skied was the same course run during the '66 World Championships. It featured a steep top section, plenty of air and lots of high-speed turns.
A typical day consisted of the speed skiers getting on the lift around 8:15 in the morning and training until noon. After lunch, tech skiers would train from 1:15 until about three. From four o'clock until dinner at eight, the athletes participated in dryland conditioning and watched video of their training. The high altitude (the lodge is at 9350') required oxygen bottles to be on hand for recovery.
The training camp was especially satisfying for the coaching staff because everyone was healthy. Picabo Street (Park City, UT) andMegan Gerety (Anchorage, AK), both returning from major injuries, attended the camp and skied well.
"Having Picabo and Megan back, that was huge," said Tracy. "We also had four girls testing new equipment, and everything went really well. It was a really productive camp and everyone-even those returning from injuries-handled the load."
The women's speed team will make a pit stop in Buffalo to train in a wind tunnel before heading to Switzerland for more training. The tech skiers will be in Salt Lake City doing physical testing before heading out to Austria in October for on-snow training.