SNOW FARM, New Zealand (July 29) – The U.S. Cross Country Ski Team is taking full advantage of the southern hemisphere's winter months, spending three weeks at Snow Farm on New Zealand's south island. This is the ninth consecutive year the Team has had a summer training session down under.
"The reason we keep going back is it's just really good mid-winter type snow conditions that you can't find on a glacier in Alaska or Europe," said Head Cross Country Coach Chris Grover. "We do a three week camp because it does take a while to get down and back. We want to be able to maximize are amount of time down there on snow.
"The primary focus of the camp is distance training. Athletes are training some of their biggest training volumes of the year on a week-to-week basis."
Attending athletes included 2010 Olympians Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT), Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Kikkan Randall (Anchorage, AK), Liz Stephen (East Montpellier, VT) and Simi Hamilton (Aspen, CO), among the cross country team.
The camp is very structured, leaving little time for any deviation from the training schedule. Athletes are on snow for two or two and half hours for two sessions a day. A play-by-play of a typical day in New Zealand consists of waking up at 7:30 a.m. to eat breakfast and getting ready for skiing by 8:30 a.m., then training from 9 – 11:30 a.m. followed by lunch and couple hours of resting. After the break athletes move out for another two hour training block before dinner.
"The main goal of an on-snow training camp like this during the summer is to train a lot and to train hard," said Newell, who is making his ninth consecutive trip to Snow Farm along with the Team's. "Cross country skiers have to put in an incredible amount of training during the off season and July and August tend to be some of our biggest months out of the entire year. We kind of think about it as putting in the long hours and the pain this time of year will make the season a lot more enjoyable."
The cross country gang will stay on the southern half of the planet for a couple more weeks, ending the camp with some New Zealand summer FIS races.
"New Zealand has been awesome so far. As a team, our primary focus right now is lots of on-snow hours," said Hamilton. As our time here progresses, we'll be gradually dialing in more intensity with frequent interval sessions, speed sessions, time trials and New Zealand FIS races which will be at the very end of our camp."