The U.S. freestyle aerials team pushed aside all distractions this week to lock down the basics during a five-day spring camp at Lake Placid's Olympic Jumping Complex.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — The U.S. freestyle aerials team pushed aside all distractions this week to lock down the basics during a five-day spring camp at Lake Placid's Olympic Jumping Complex.
With housing and meals at the Olympic Training Center (OTC), the team completely focused on water ramp and trampoline training. According to head coach Matt Christensen, the OTC and 750,000-gallon training pool provide the perfect mix for his team to gain the ultimate preseason productivity.
"Everyone is focused, there's less distractions, there's no work, there's no school — we're here for one thing and one thing only and that's to train," Christensen said. "We've had a lot of support from ORDA [Olympic Regional Development Authority] here and it's been just a team training, so it's been sweet. It's been since 2003 since we've been here so it's good to be back."
The biggest benefit of an exclusive team training is repetitions with athletes getting 35-50 jumps per day on the water ramps for what Christensen said is about a 50 percent increase from previous spring camps. This allows each athlete to fine-tune the basics, an absolute essential in a sport judged on precision like aerial skiing.
"This camp is amazing for me, I get to come into such a focused environment and jump in our own special training sessions where we get to take as many numbers as we want and get what we want to accomplish," said 2006 Olympian Ryan St. Onge, who has been sidelined with bruised heels since the World Championships last March.
"Coming off the injury and having a good break at the end of the season was a good thing for me. My heels feel great now and I'm still trying to work to get them stronger and to get my body stronger, but they feel great and I'm excited to get jumping again."
It was at a 1992 water camp in Lake Placid where St. Onge and Emily Cook took their first jumps. Now with a combined resume of 23 years on the U.S. team including five U.S. championships between them, the pair of veterans have become regulars in Lake Placid and say they look forward to the trip east each season.
"It's amazing to be back here and to think that with my first jump, I was just trying to go off the jump and survive — I landed straight on my head. To think that I'm still doing that almost 15 years later is just amazing," St. Onge said with a chuckle.
"This was kind of like home for me before I moved out to Utah," said Cook, who was raised near Boston. "At this camp it took me a day or two to get used to a new jump, from here on out though it's working on twisting and getting ready to add a twist to a new jump. It's really important for us to get some singles in and for me to start doing some double twisting single flips … so that I can add more degree of difficulty to my tricks for next season."
Christensen was most impressed with all the women and C team men, who already were making several positive strides forward that he didn't expect to see until July. He noted solid progress in take-offs and proper arm drops for twist timing.
The camp concludes Sunday, with the team set to regroup in mid-July at Park City for a second pool session scheduled for the Utah Olympic Park.