U.S. disabled alpine team savors Hintertux training camp


U.S. disabled alpine team savors Hintertux training camp{mosimage}More than a dozen U.S. alpine disabled skiers formed the core of what turned out to be a most productive glacier camp – not only for the national team but also for a couple of regional programs.

“The weather was perfect once again. We’ve only had about one bad day in five years of going to Hintertux (Austria),” head coach Kevin Jardine said. He and his key lieutenant, Erin Sullivan, introduced Lasse Ericsson, the team’s new assistant coach and a former coach for Norway and Sweden.

Overall, there were 13 U.S. team athletes plus athletes from disabled programs at Winter Park, Vail and Aspen, Colorado. “We must’ve had about 40 people all together, and it was terrific. Everyone got some great training,” Jardine said.

The main focus was on slalom and giant slalom “with a big emphasis on slalom since that’s been our weakness lately on the World Cup,” according to Jardine. “You know, we normally come back from Hintertux and we’re looking for more time to get some more training before we start racing, but this time we’re really comfortable with where everyone is; all the athletes have stepped it up and we’re all anxious to get racing.”

The ski team had scheduled four days of super G training, but with the GS and slalom going so well, the coaching staff modified things and the group freeskied one day on a super G course but took the other three days to further boost the tech skiing. “We moved to a steeper hill and kept moving forward,” Jardine said.

He was particularly pleased with the progress from three of the one-legged skiers, Sandy Dukat (LW-2; Chicago), Ralph Green (LW-2; Eagle-Vail, Colorado) and former Paralympic champion Monte Meier (LW-2; Park City, Utah). “Monte went over five days early with ‘Sully’ and got in some freeskiing, so when we arrived, he was ready to roll. He had a slight knee injury at the end, but Monte made some big changes, as did Sandy and Ralph … and I’m sure it’s going to benefit them this winter.”

The ski team continued its jam-packed schedule, as it’s done in previous camps, so the athletes and staff will be able to handle the lone pre-Paralympics World Cup schedule, which includes eight days of racing for men and women in South Korea and Japan in January. “That’s going to be a very hectic 13 days and everyone’s been getting used to dealing with tiredness and fatigue,” he said.

One of the highlights away from the glacier was the annual trip to Soelden to catch the men’s able-bodied World Cup opener Oct. 23. U.S. coaches Phil McNichol and Mike Morin arranged for special passes for the disabled group so they could get closer to the action and have more room to maneuver in the crowd of 15,000-plus.

The Alpenhof Hotel, which has become the team’s training headquarters each fall, “is just like going home for us. They’re so geared for our needs, and they’re talking of building a new hotel and making it totally accessible for us … it’s just a great situation for us,” Jardine said.

The team will regroup Dec. 9-10 in Breckenridge, Colorado, for the annual The Hartford Ski Spectacular.

Courtesy USSA News Bureau

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