As I stepped out of my car at Loveland Ski Area in Colorado, I was in awe of a foot of fresh snow on the ground, the crisp bluebird sky, and overwhelmed by the thought of meeting eleven of our team’s new first-years. As a senior captain who went abroad for the fall semester and had just arrived in Colorado days before, I was aware of how large and young the Alpine team had become, but was ready to see how they had acclimated to collegiate athletics during preseason. This Thanksgiving break camp would be the first time our team was together and training after months of preparation.
For both the men’s and women’s Alpine Ski Team, our season begins once we arrive on campus. Although we cannot train together with our coaches until October due to NCAA guidelines and regulations, seniors lead Captains’ Practices every Tuesday and Thursday, while also dictating lifting on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This continues until we reach “in season” status, when our three coaches lead the team in intense workouts up to our first training camp. This time of the year helps shape the future of our ski season, allowing the team to work hard while also establishing a positive team environment that can be carried on until competition starting in January.
Once the team arrived to the ski area and I met all of the new first-years, it was time for our camp to begin. For the next two days, we would be free skiing and practicing drills to get the feel of skiing back and to prepare for the next five days we would spend training gates in Vail, Colorado. Once in Vail, we would be training Giant Slalom and Slalom with training starting at 6:30 AM most days.
It was during these training blocks and mountaintop sunrises that I finally got to connect with our new eight female and three male athletes. The sport of ski racing is one that is physically and mentally demanding. Subzero temperatures, early wake ups, and long hours to hopefully ski fast in spandex around some plastic poles seems insane. Throw in the workload from school and you have the perfect storm. From my freshman year up until my senior year, I have sometimes found myself questioning if all of this is worth it. Without the support of one another and an amazing team atmosphere, I can guarantee I would not still be racing today. My hopes for the team moving forward are a successful season and fueling a positive and healthy team where we can all continue to celebrate one another, even on the bad days. After meeting our first-years, I know it can only get better from here.
Our annual Thanksgiving camp was an overall success. Our team worked hard and practiced respect, integrity, and discipline. We even celebrated a team Thanksgiving! Head coach, Willi Steinrotter, felt confident about the camp: “I felt our Thanksgiving camp was a great camp with solid training. Loveland had great snow for free skiing, and the snow at Vail allowed us to get some great early season gate training. The team looked good and is getting ready for the season!”
Looking ahead, the team will continue to train at Whiteface while also racing in non-collegiate races leading up to finals. Captain Ali Price ’19 feels ready for the team’s next couple of weeks. “Although we haven’t had much on snow training, our first races are coming up this weekend at Sunday River in Maine. I think our whole team is excited about getting back in the racing environment. It is still early on in our season and often times at this part of the year, it can be difficult for us to stay patient with our progression. I think that if we are able to do that, we will set a good tone for the rest of our season.”
For the next month, I will be training and racing out in Colorado while the team continues to get closer and work towards a successful racing season. The next time our team will be completely together will be in Lake Placid on January, 2, where we will begin our second training camp leading into the Spring semester. Until then, my hope is that our team will continue to build off of our Vail camp to ensure a completive racing season on the Division 1 college circuit.