Warmer than expected conditions meant softer snow than the women’s tech team had hoped for in New Zealand, but it was a productive camp at Coronet Peak, nevertheless.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t ski on injected snow at all since the temperature was just not cold enough,” said tech coach Roland Pfeifer. “But it didn’t hurt us at all. We still had very good conditions to train on.”
The tech team — Mikaela Shiffrin, Resi Stiegler and Julia Mancuso, as well as members of the Development squad — trained slalom and GS from July 23-Aug 11.
Pfeifer says, at the top level, there’s no need to mess around with stubbies or brush gates in this early part of the training calendar. After a day of freeskiing, it was straight into gate training, set generously on a mild pitch.
Stiegler, who last season came back from a knee injury but appeared to be skiing at less than 100 percent throughout the winter, has again been fighting some physical concerns — this time it’s her back, discomfort in the L4-L5 discs to be exact — but Pfeifer is optimistic for her heading into this Olympic season.
“It was a good summer training for Resi. She looks strong, very motivated, improved her skiing in a big way,” said the coach. “We needed to slow down a little bit because her back was bothering her, so we couldn’t put on full volume in comparison to Mikaela.
“But it’s very promising what she showed me down there. … She is healthy. There’s no major problem. She has been on the road many years already. It’s just a little bit worn down, but not too much. We will have this issue under control, as long as she gets treatment and does her exercise she’s asked to do by the doctor.”
The 18-year-old Shiffrin, on the other hand, was busy playing around with new ski, plate and boot combinations offered by Atomic this season. Having arrived with 23 different pairs of skis, Shiffrin, according to the coach, is still in the process of narrowing down the setup for the season.
In an interview with Ski Racing earlier this summer, Shiffrin said she’s looking to take the world by storm in GS, as she has in slalom. (She used slightly more humble phrasing.) Pfeifer, for one, expects she will be a podium contender in the discipline throughout the season, made possible in part by their strategy of exposing the youngster to high-speed training conditions in downhill and super G, which they say will translate into better performance in GS.
“We had six days of GS, very good GS,” he said. “Her technique is more automatic now than it was before, so she’s fully on track. … She has improved her strength and her power, and I’m pretty convinced that’s why she was able to improve her skill doing high-speed GS.”
Mancuso trained just two days of GS, aided by a new technician who will hopefully help alleviate some the equipment concerns that were challenging her during her first season on Head skis and boots.
“They were really trying to solve her bouncing knee she had last year. Because she had a little too aggressive boots and skis, she was suffering all the time with her knee. The left knee was bouncing in and out like crazy. … I spoke with her coach, Chris Knight. He was very satisfied the way she improved her GS in combination with the equipment. She looked strong too.”