US men form "Speed Train" in Portillo


The “Speed Train” is rocking Portillo.

According to US Men’s Head Coach Sasha Rearick the men’s speed camp is wrapping up its first week  of training in Chile and it has been: “Awesome. Absolutely awesome.”

U.S. Ski Team, Travis Ganong, Portillo, Ski RacingBlessed with good snow and near perfect weather the large World Cup speed group, as well as some Europa team skiers and GS king pin Ted Ligety have been cranking out some long days.

“It’s a bit like a cruise ship,” says Rearick, “there’s so many people coming in here.” With breakfast scheduled at 6:30 the group is in tech gates by 8:30 and running speed from 9:15 until 12 or 12:30. That’s a far cry from last season when the men’s team basically missed all of its summer training time to weather.

This time around they are enjoying spot-on conditions and the staff is making the best of it.

“We’re really focused on skiing more powerfully, on driving the body and that’s in all events,” says Rearick. He said having some GS skiers along has “been good. It brings more intensity. It’s all about (determining) what is good skiing and the general theme is to get better every day.”

Rearick had particular kudos for Travis Ganong, Marco Sullivan and Erik Fisher. “Travis has been sking fast. Last year he skied technially well, this year we want him to push, take a little more risk and raise the level he’s comfortable at.” Since the young (23) Ganong scored last season on the World Cup’s more difficult courses (Bormio, Wengen and Kitzbuehel) it would seem the focus could pay dividends.

“Marco made a big step this summer,” the coach said. “He’s been working hard and changed up a few things.” Sullivan missed a big chunk of last season after a head injury sustained at Bormio in December. “He’s been working hard in Park City training, he’s healthy and feeling good. He’s made a big step. It’s very promising.”

Fisher has also caught the eye of the coach and done so without producing any startling results. “Fisher has made a lot of effort. He pulled himself out of the tank and worked hard this summer. I’m really proud of him.”

The coach also said Thomas Biesmeyer has made a big step in GS that has the coach “really psyched,” and he said Tim Jitloff had shown that “on certain days when he skis technically and tactically well,” he has displayed the potential to score. He added that (Steven) Nyman is healthy and steadily making progress. “It’s the best he’s been feeling in a long time.”

Will Brandenburg is “back on the speed train,” as well the coach added, noting it was the first time in four seasons Brandenburg had been physically able to take advantage of the invitation to attend the South American speed camp. “Now we just have to get him some ranks and racing on the World Cup.

The best part, of course, is that the team is getting in the training they missed out on last season. “It is a big crew. There are 11 on the speed team this year along with Ligety and some of the Europa Cup team. … Last year, for sure that was tough. I’m looking forward to Copper (Mountain, Colorado) and getting another speed camp in,” said coach Rearick. “We’re really excited about that.”

The team has the run of Portillo with just the BC regional team – under former USST racer Brandon Dyksterhouse – also on site. “It had been a couple of seasons since I was here,” said Rearick, “and the grooming has been much better.”

In fact, he said there wasn’t much he could think of to improve things. “Other than to get rid of this stomach virus. I was basically curled up in a fetal position earlier today. A few of the guys have missed a day to this virus, but we’re washing our hands a lot.”

Images of Marco Sullivan (homepage) and Travis Ganong by Jonathan Selkowitz.

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