Sunshine, snow and ski testing are the trifecta that create a genuine summer skiing experience at Mount Hood, Oregon. Government Camp residents were endlessly digging out their cars this winter, so snow coverage and training opportunities are abundant this year despite a less than stellar summer in 2015. Whether you’re heading to Keely’s Ski Camp, Mt. Hood Ski Camp or traveling with your team, you can enjoy all that the area has to offer.
But ski testing, an integral part of many athletes’ trips to summer camp, can be an overwhelming process for the uninitiated.
Josh Benge, head U16 Coach and Prep Period Strategist for the Squaw Valley Ski Team is a Govy veteran, and he knows a thing or two about the best ways to navigate a week in the summer skiing mecca of the U.S.
“Try out what you can and work with your coaches to figure out what setup will be the best for you,” Benge says. “Be very critical and pay attention to how your body reacts to the new equipment. Critical thought and testing here can set you up for a great start to next season.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that camp enrollees are there to become better skiers, not just to try out the hottest new gear. Give yourself enough time to focus on ski technique as well as try new skis. It’s perfectly acceptable to give yourself extra time on last year’s setup before trying something new, and it may help you draw clearer comparisons between new models of equipment.
This seven-day itinerary walks you through the brands that will be in Mount Hood this summer, how to test, and more tips from Benge for getting the most out of your training.
What To Test: ROSSIGNOL
Meet up with NCAA phenoms past and present including Matt Beers, Mike Boardman, Cam Smith, and Cam Price, who will be available to help you test the full line of tech skis (slalom sizes starting at 126 centimeters and GS sizes starting at 135 cm). All Junior, Tweener, and FIS-level products will be available to test on a first-come, first-served basis. LANGE will have test boots starting in a 70 flex through 140. Be sure to visit them on Lower Government Camp Loop Rd., near the Collins Lake condominium complex, from June 6 – July 7.
Coach’s Tip: Sleep cannot be stressed enough. Benge knows it’s fun to hang out in the bunk rooms with your friends until the wee hours of the night. “We are all guilty of it, but you have to balance the sleep-to-fun scale,” he explained. “You ultimately will be waking up earlier than your usual summer days, probably somewhere around 5:30-6:00 a.m., thus necessitating actually going to bed. Without a proper seven-to-eight hours of sleep every night you won’t be able to get the most out of your skiing on hill.”
What To Do: Hiking up to Mirror Lake for a swim is a staple of any quality Mt. Hood experience. The hike is mellow and relatively short, and the trailhead sits just outside of town. Bring your swimsuit or athletic clothes that you won’t mind getting wet so you can take a dip at the top!
What to Test: HEAD
Located in Bob Olsen’s shop in the Mount Hood Test Center, Head will have all of next year’s skis, boots, and bindings including the World Cup Rebel GS RD and SL RD skis available. They will also have a full line of boots to demo in all sizes and all flexes of the Raptor b5-b3-b2 and Raptor 90s, 80s, and 70s and 50s, meaning you can test the entire Head setup while you’re there. Pat Duran and Matt Larson will be on hand to help you out in addition to FIS athletes, Nick Mitchel and Jake Dippy.
Coach’s Tip: Staying hydrated goes hand-in-hand with sleep, said Benge. When you’re on the Palmer Snowfield, you get hit with sun, heat, your workload (skiing), and even some altitude. All of this wicks moisture out of your body much faster than you are probably accustomed to. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. If you get back down to town for lunch and all you want to do is sleep (assuming you followed the sleep rule), you are likely dehydrated. Aim to drink more water than you think is necessary, at least one big bottle while you’re skiing and then constantly sip water throughout the rest of the day to do the trick. This will fuel your body so you can perform and get the most out of training.
What To Do: If you’re a mountain biker, the trails at Sandy Ridge just outside of Welches are world class and easily accessible via a convenient logging road that starts in the parking lot. Rent a bike in town or bring your own, just be sure to wear a helmet!
What to Test: VOLKL / MARKER / DALBELLO
These skis have won World Cup globes, so why not test them out for yourself? While you’re picking up skis, try out Dalbello boots, which are now being used by GS globe winner Eva-Maria Brem of Austria. The folks from Volkl/Marker/Dalbello will be on hand June 1 – July 31 on Main Street in Government Camp. Look for Charlie’s Mt. View, then go up the staircase on left side as you face the front of the building. They’ll be there.
Coach’s Tip: “Sunscreen,” Benge said. “I know, I know, I sound like your mother, right? That’s because she is right! I cannot count the number of people walking around Govy with crispy fried skin. It looks so painful, not to mention the damage to your skin down the road! Goggle tans are cool, don’t get me wrong, but please use sunscreen. The higher the SPF the better to protect your face. Picking up a trendy high-quality wind buff is also a good way to block out those harmful rays.” Add lip balm with an SPF to the list as well, because nobody wants to look at your peeling smoochers.
What to Test: FISCHER
Fischer’s test center will be open from June 7- July 14. Hunt them down at Valians Ski Shop, in the center of town and across the street from the general store. Can’t find it? Here’s the address to drop a pin: 88510 Government Camp Loop, Government Camp, Oregon 97028.
Coach’s Tip: Don’t be afraid to branch out, meet new people, and form new friendships. Everyone is there to get better at skiing and have fun. I know countless people that have met friends during their summers at Mt. Hood and have gone on to become fulfilling life-long friendships. Step out of your box. You might not end up finding your BFF, but you can meet some pretty cool people and learn a lot from your peers.
What to Test: TECNICA/BLIZZARD
Blizzard and Tecnica enter the summer race camp season more committed than ever to ski racing in the U.S., working in Government Camp from June 18 – July 2. They will have test equipment available for those who contact them prior to their camp with specific requests. They believe in delivering an even better demo experience by working directly with summer training programs on a camp-by-camp basis. Please contact Joe Sipe directly to address your specific camp needs by email at [email protected] or by phone at 970.343.9245.
Coach’s Tip: Bring skis tuned and ready to go, and take care of them while you are up there. You can’t even imagine how much salt is thrown on the snowfield; this ensures a good surface for training, but is also very harsh on you skis. Be sure to tune and wax them every night. A rock star wouldn’t go to a concert with his guitar out of tune, would he? Your skis are your instrument. Make sure they are in top shape all the time.
What To Do: Make the drive down to Welches for afternoon dryland games at the fields in town. Soccer and speedball are always camp favorites, but be sure to stretch first!
What to Test: ATOMIC
Visit Andrew Tiner at Atomic to test out the same equipment used by Mikaela Shiffrin. But be sure to call ahead. Equipment is available on reservation from June 1 to mid-July. Tiner’s phone number is 801.528.8028, and his email is [email protected]
Coach’s Tip: Pay attention to your coaches and your peers. During video and on the hill sessions, it is easy to zone out when it isn’t you on the screen or the one skiing. Pay attention the entire time to what your coaches and peers are talking about. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from watching others and listening to how they describe their skiing, according to Benge.
What To Do: Are you more of a thrill seeker? The cliffs at Punchbowl Falls might be just what you’re looking for. Take a leap into the water or just chill out on the river (only with your coach’s approval, of course). Either way, it’s sure to be a good time.
What to Test: NORDICA
Since its founding in 1939, Nordica continues to be passionately committed to building leading-edge race products that have produced numerous Olympic, World Championship, World Cup and junior racing victories. The 2015-16 season was no exception with Nordica earning three World Cup victories, 10 World Cup podiums and National Championships at both the adult and junior levels. Nordica test product is available throughout the summer. Contact Ethan Korpi by email at [email protected] or by phone at 802.999.3864 to reserve your test products in advance.
Coach’s Tip: Keep a journal. You are in a captive environment that is solely focused on skiing while you are at Hood. This can lead to breakthroughs or progress that is leaps and bounds above what happens in the same time frame during the normal season. It will be months until you are on snow again. Make sure to write down as much as you can remember every day: what drills you did, what works for you, and what you focused on. Looking back on this right before you return to snow for the winter can spark some of the greatness that happened during the summer and allow you to start right where you left off once the season rolls around.
What else do you like to do during your trips to Mt. Hood? Let us know in a comment below.
Photo courtesy of Mt. Hood Meadows (Facebook)