U.S. aerialists working on acrobatics at preseason campSome unexpected snowfall has added a little spice — cold, not heat — to the next-to-last preseason training camp for U.S. aerialists on the trampolines and in the splash pool at Utah Olympic Park.
Losing the World Cup openers in Australia earlier this month because of poor snow conditions at Mount Buller turned out to be a blessing, according to freestyle head coach Matt Christensen. It reduced travel and costs, and it gave top aerialists more time to train at Utah Olympic Park.
“It can be an iffy thing Down Under,” Christensen said. “And after the Olympic season, it’s good to get some additional time off. We didn’t hold our first camp until June, and it’s been a good summer; we just tested last week and everyone’s strength has gone up, which shows how well the Sports Science staff has been doing with our athletes.
“We started on the 11th and this camp finishes on [Sept. 22]. We start our final camp next week and that’ll go until Oct. 10 when they shut down the jumps” at the Bear Hollow site.
“We’ve had everyone take a lot more jumps this year, and we’ve done a lot more trampoline work than ever. We realized we needed more work, need to be better acrobats if we’re really going to compete with the Australians and the Chinese; they’re good acrobats and we needed to step it up.”
As a change, the aerialists — who practice their jumps into the splash pool where the aerated water helps simulate an on-snow landing — also skipped their annual tramp camp with Sky Riders in Toronto, but brought a Canadian coach to UOP twice, including for this camp.
“We did a lot of our own bouncing, and we want to keep bouncing,” Christensen said. “But it made sense to bring in one coach than fly everyone to Toronto this year … and I think we’re getting a lot out of it. She said she couldn’t believe how much some athletes have improved since she saw them in June, and that’s the kind of improvement we want.”
Christensen singled out Olympians Emily Cook and Jana Lindsey, plus 1995 U.S. champion Lacy Schnoor, who was injured at midseason last winter, for moving quickly to establish triple-twisting-doubles (three twists, two flips).
“I’m particularly happy with the way Lacy’s come along in the last month or six weeks,” he said.
Schnoor, rebounding from a fractured left scapular after winning a NorAm aerials meet in late January, is pleased with the penultimate camp … even though it snowed and disrupted things.
“It’s been a great camp, although it’s definitely getting cold,” Schnoor said. I’m doing a full, double-full, which I qualified last year, and I’ve been doing a bunch of those … and I did my first double-full, full [a second triple-twisting-double], but I won’t qualify that [for use this winter] because I won’t have had enough jumps. I’ve only done 10 or 12, but it’s good for my confidence to have gotten that in … and to know I can do it.
“At the end of the last camp, we do a comp simulation and it was the first time Emily, Jana and I all did two triple-twisting-doubles. That was really good. I’ve had a kind of a hard summer, but now I’m getting out of it and I think I’m jumping better than ever. I feel very confident off the jumps.”
Schnoor said the snow was a bit jarring. “We had 3 or 4 inches on the ramps, so we had to shovel it off, side slip it … and it was very cold. And the water’s getting colder. It’s not freezing yet but I’ve definitely had numb feet and hands. It’s such freaky weather but just a couple of more weeks and we’ll get through it. I remember my first year jumping we had the same thing, and I’d be doing singles [one twist, one somersault] with snow on the jump, and I’d have little icicles in my hair.”
With the openers canceled in Australia, the first World Cup aerials meet for the 2007 season will be Dec. 9-10 in China at Jilin Beida Lake. The World Freestyle Ski Championships are set for Jan. 23-27 in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.