WHISTLER, B.C. (May 7) - The U.S. Disabled Cross Country Team is training on the 2010 Paralympic cross country venue at the Whistler Olympic Park in the Callaghan Valley this week. It is the Team's first time on the trails where they hope to win Paralympic medals two years from now.
"The goals were to be able to become familiar with the terrain they'll be skiing on in 2010, and working on training on snow as well as in the weight room," said Disabled Cross Country Head Coach Jon Kreamelmeyer. "The team is looking pretty good. Everyone is out there checking things out."
Among the athletes training in Whistler are 2007 U.S. long distance champion Monica Bascio (sit-ski; Evergreen, CO), Paralympic silver medalist Bob Balk (sit-ski; Long Beach, CA) and Paralympian Greg Mallory (sit-ski; Portland, OR)
"I absolutely love it up here. I am so thankful that I am able to see the trails two years before the Paralympics," said Bascio. "I think it's highly representative of a competitive sit-ski course. It has a little bit of everything. It's going to be fast and really competitive so I am really looking forward to racing on it."
Bascio, who took the 2008 season off to prepare for the birth of her son, said she is using the time in Whistler not only to get to know the area, but also to make a strong return to the sport.
"I'm working on getting back into prime shape. It's been an eventful year," Bascio said. "I'm working on volume and really fine tuning my technique and getting the power back into my skiing."
According to Kreamelmeyer, who said the course was better than most he had ever seen, training in Whistler will give the team the advantage of already knowing the features during the Paralympics.
"All of the terrain here is very good. They're deceivingly difficult. When you actually ski them there's not a lot of room for recovery," Kreamelmeyer. "I think the design they've come up with is great, probably the best I have ever seen."
The Team will wrap up training in Whistler Thursday and will be doing athletic testing later on this month.