Vail Daily column: One season’s end is another’s beginning
As the 2015-16 winter competition season draws to a close, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes spend little time reminiscing about the season. It is not for lack of things to reminisce about — a major breakthrough in their skiing or riding, a personal best, new tricks brought to snow, college acceptances received, new friendships made, a successful transition to a new age class group, academic achievements, setbacks overcome and the list goes on. It is simply that so many of our athletes are already focused on next season.
This time of year, athletes are busy competing to improve next year’s ranking and seeding. This is of particular importance for athletes advancing to a new age category or level of competition where they hope to establish themselves. Longer term, these rankings are critical to those athletes looking to achieve goals such as national team status, and for our alpine and Nordic athletes, NCAA collegiate team spots.
End-of-season evaluations are being delivered by coaches together with finalizing off-season training plans for both on and off snow. Physical testing is being conducted for full-time athletes after a short active rest period to assess winter season gains or losses relative to pre-season results from testing conducted last fall. After-school conditioning sessions begin shortly after on-snow training concludes.
FOCUSING ON FUNDAMENTALS
Spring on-snow training changes from competition preparation to a focus on fundamentals skills. The first on-snow camp is hosted next week by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail at Golden Peak for our alpine athletes. Full-time athletes begin training on weekends from late April to late May at nearby resorts that remain open late season.
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Come early June, alpine, freestyle and Nordic athletes head to Mount Bachelor for up to three weeks of on-snow training. Big mountain athletes are off to Red Lodge, Montana, in early June for a camp and competitions while freeski park and pipe and snowboard athletes travel to their summer camps in Mount Hood. Later in the summer our more senior athletes head to a variety of age and snowsport specific camps in the southern hemisphere and on the glaciers of Europe. Whether training in Ski & Snowboard Club Vail camps or with divisional, regional or national athlete development programs, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes literally span the globe chasing a never-ending winter!
While at home, double sessions of strength training and conditioning are scheduled four times a week for full-time athletes from June through early August at the Minturn Fitness Center and the adjoining Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy campus. Activities range from biking, hiking, games and flexibility to sport specific coordination, agility and strength training.
For many of our acrobatics athletes, progressions on the trampolines and at the water ramps are critical throughout the spring and summer prep period to bring new tricks to snow next winter. Freestylers are on the trampolines at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and at water ramp and trampoline camps in Steamboat Springs, while freeski park and pipe and big mountain athletes are doing similar preparation at the Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah.
In preparation for a busy competition season next winter, many of our athletes also take advantage of the summer time to get ahead in academics in order to lighten their academic load during the winter. Summer classes to earn a few credits towards graduation or test prep tutoring to be ready for college admissions tests are a great opportunity to reduce some of the stress of striving to achieve both academically and athletically throughout the busy winter.
While the club’s high school age athletes have extensive preparations over the summer, for the majority of the club’s kids, summer is a time to play a variety of sports, be with family and friends and enjoy some down time. Sprinkle in a few days of on-snow time with active healthy lifestyles and it won’t be long until the leaves are turning again and the excitement for a new season rises.
Among the many life lessons learned at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, balancing family, friends, academics and sport prepares our kids for the dynamic and fast paced lives they are sure to lead as adults. It’s these great lessons, memories and friendships that we treasure more than any medals that may have been won or lost along the way.