So you’ve decided that a summer ski camp is the way to go. But where
to go? And for how long? Ski Racing asked USSA National Competition
Director Walt Evans, who oversees the National Development System,
what the sport’s national governing body recommends.
Evans pointed us to the Alpine Training System Matrix (download it here:
september_09.pdf) for the official counsel from the USSA.
“I have to say I am a big fan of summer training,” said Evans. As far as
amount of time on snow over the summer, Evans and his team suggest increasing from one week to three as racers get older.
“In Phase Three [ages 10-14], if those kids get five to seven days at a summer camp that would be great,” said Evans. “In Phase Four [ages 12-15] we
double it and in Phase Five [ages 14-17] we triple it. “
Evans said he believes that remaining close to a home program is key for a
young racer to make meaningful strides over the summer.
“Camps are great thing, but not at the expense of athletes not being able to
participate in the winter program someplace,” said Evans. “The club structure is foremost to make sure the kids remain in a team system throughout
the winter and they have coaching there. Beyond that, if those kids can experience some quality summer training it’s really money in the bank.”
Evans said that summer camps often offer a coaching boost for racers. “I
really like to see clubs stepping up their operation, especially during the
summer, to bring in outside coaching and alumni athletes just so the home
coaches get a little cross pollination with other ideas about fitness, tactical and equipment components,” he said. “That freshens things up from a
coaches standpoint and the athletes also have the opportunity to see a few
different approaches and expand their vocabulary. Sometimes a new way to
see or explain things will click with an athlete.”
Evans said that now, summer camps, and youth development programs in
general, have even more work to do as school systems have suffered.
“We really have a global challenge with children and physical education
activities,” he said. “I think that any kid we have, as a coach or parent, we
need to facilitate motor skills learning. For the younger children this is extremely important. For budget reasons these programs have been compromised at a lot of schools and kids aren’t getting motor skill opportunities
that they really need.”
Evans said that coaches should pay extra attention to their racers’ boots
over the summer.
“If there is one thing we can all do better, it’s making sure the kids are in
a boot that flexes well enough so they can get their knees up over their toes
and their hips can be over their heels so they are in a balanced and athletic
position all the time and not having a boot that is too stiff,” said Evans. “All
skiers need a boot that functions well, fits well and compliments the skills
that they’re trying to learn.”
Time away from the sport is crucial on all levels, too, said Evans.
“One thing we can’t forget is the importance of a four to six-week break
from skiing all together,” said Evans. “Playing another sport and working
on different motor skills that way is really essential. The J1s and J2s get so
enthusiastic about racing and think they have to live on snow and that can
be more harmful than good sometimes. The muscles need to rest and recuperate and the mind does, too.”
(For more USSA guidelines on summer camp decisions, go to: fanmail.
— Eric Williams
Can-Am Race Camps
Overview: Can-Am Race Camps provides customized, one-on-one World
Cup level training with 12-person camps. The Tollefson family has a long
history in American skiing starting with father Terry coaching Olympians
Jimmy Huega, Greg Jones, Eric Poulsen and several others; son Paul has
coached Olympic hopefuls. It’s a family tradition carried on today with
coaching custom fit to each individual that produces results. Our camps
are limited to 12 racers to maximize training and skill development. It is
our intention to help racers develop plans and skills to transform their level
of competition, while having a positive and lasting effect on the way they
Early camps: Our early session camps are designed to keep fundamental
development and tactical decision making on the front burner. Each camp
begins with a timed run and ends with a timed run to demonstrate new
skill development learned at camp. Racers will have a complete analysis
of where they are and be introduced to new techniques to overcome weak-
nesses and exploit their natural talents. We assess each racer individually
and introduce new tools to help racers understand the balance between
speed, line, ability and courage. This camp is appropriate for all ages and
is limited to 12 participants to keep coach to racer ratio low. Lodging is
available at an additional expense. Camp will include Dartfish video review
summary DVD for each racer (conditions permitting).
Week & multi-week sessions: Our week and multi-week sessions pro-
vide racers an excellent opportunity to develop skills and tactics necessary
to transform their current skiing to the next level. Our camps are limited to
12 racers per camp (speed camps have 16 racers) to allow more 1:1 coach-
ing. We will focus on an elite athlete development plan that will allow each
racer to enter their next season with a definitive direction and plan for suc-
cess. Training includes extensive Dartfish analysis to take visualization to a
higher level of understanding.
Location: Mt. Hood, Ore.
Activities: Race training, fly fishing, climbing & hiking, whitewater raft-
ing, kiteboarding or windsurfing.
Dates: Early camp sessions: May 15-17, May 29- 31, June 5-7, June 12-14;
weeklong Sessions: June 15-21 (Speed Camp 1), June 22-28 (Speed Camp
2), July 9-15, July 16-22, July 23-29, July 30-Aug. 5
Cost: Early sessions $750 (lodging extra); weeklong sessions $1970 (with
lodging); multi-week discounts
Contact: PO Box 833, Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org