Vail Daily column: Off-season is the most important season
The offseason, what for most is a time to put away the skis and boards, is for competitive snow sports athletes the most important preparation period. During the spring, summer and fall, snow sports athletes participate in multi-sport experiences to develop well rounded athletic skills, as well as specific conditioning activities. For freeski, freestyle and snowboard athletes, it is also a time to undertake a methodical progression utilizing trampoline and water ramp sessions to prepare to take new tricks to snow.
On-snow camps during the off-season allow athletes to improve fundamental skills, make important changes and learn new techniques and tricks without the pressure of impending competitions. As much or more important than the gains that can be made in preparation for the upcoming competition season is the healthy lifestyle promoted through year-round activity. A love of sport and active, healthy lifestyles, respect for self and development of character, courage, commitment are the most important outcomes of the time our kids and young men and women commit to pursuing their dreams in skiing and snowboarding.
When the on-snow season ends in mid-April and after a few weeks of rest, strength training and conditioning resumes along with trampoline sessions for our acrobatics athletes. Weekend skiing options also became available at neighboring ski areas.
Early May included a mid-week early morning training camp at the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek for alpine racers, filled with the excitement of training where world-class athletes gathered twice this past season. Made possible by the incredible support of Vail Resorts and Beaver Creek, racers were able to log important on-snow time before a full day of classes and without travel, lodging, meal or lift ticket expenses.
June included a three week on-snow camp for SSCV alpine and freestyle athletes at Mount Bachelor in Bend, Oregon. Dedicated training venues for SSVC and the complete rental of the Entrada Motel for our home base creates an exclusive opportunity at the lowest possible cost for our athletes. Afternoons were filled with video analysis, activities and conditioning including world-class mountain biking and hiking. With limited snow for Nordic training at Mount Bachelor, a rigorous Nordic training camp was offered in Moab. It was filled with mountain biking and other complementary cross-training options.
With the unprecedented lack of snow at Mount Hood this past summer, new summer venues were utilized by SSCV athletes together with a return to New Zealand for our older Alpine athletes to train at Treble Cone, including some Southern Hemisphere FIS racing to get an early start on the season. Our U16 alpine athletes spent several weeks in Europe, including time on the Hintertux Glacier in Austria and an intensive block of slalom training in the ski hall in Druskinikai, Lithuania. Our 16- and 17-year-old alpine athletes spent several weeks in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world, training at Cerro Castor.
Freestyle athletes timed their several week stay in Chile perfectly to enjoy a just-in-time dump and amazing training courses in Nevados de Chillan. Many hours were also logged at the water ramps in Steamboat Springs and on the trampolines at the SSCV Acrobatics Room by freestyle athletes of all ages.
SSCV freeski athletes hit the Utah Olympic Park in Park City hard for several multi-day SSCV camp offerings at the water ramps and trampolines.
All SSCV full-time athletes ages 14 and older take part in a four-day-a-week, two-session-a-day strength training and conditioning program from the beginning of June through mid-August at the Minturn Fitness Center. Athletes worked on increasing all aspects of their strength, conditioning, mobility and flexibility, along with learning recovery strategies and mental preparation for competition.
Our Nordic athletes of all ages not only endured but enjoyed a multi-day a week summer long program that included roller skiing, hikes, runs and mountain biking alongside strength sessions at the Minturn Fitness Center.
With school back in session, strength training and conditioning sessions continue for all SSCV full-time athletes, as do trampoline sessions and fall water ramp camps for our acrobatics athletes. The final physical testing takes place in the next few weeks to clear athletes to get on snow.
Now we wait for the cold and the snow guns to do their job in preparation for early season training on Golden Peak. As has been the case in the six years since the club’s investment in upgrading the snowmaking system at Golden Peak, the world is again coming to Vail this November to train alongside the club’s kids and aspiring Olympians.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.