Tommy Ford took a short break from skiing this summer and has returned to Europe excited for the Soelden opener.
When skiing shut down in early spring, Ford was able to take some time off and enjoy the outdoors around Bend, Ore., while ski touring and hiking with his partner, Laurenne Ross. In April the two bought a weight set and slowly progressed into early stages of weight lifting for the summer. When Mount Bachelor opened for a week in May, Ford was able to get a few days of free skiing in before the U.S. Ski Team partnered with the mountain to host a 10-day training camp in June.
Ford’s off-season progression took a hit in June when he injured his shoulder in a mountain biking crash, which ate into his on-snow time until arriving in Europe on Sept. 23. Unfortunately, just before leaving for Europe, Ford threw out his back and delayed his training once again. He opted to be patient, work through his recovery, and returned to snow a week ago. Ahead of Sunday’s opener, he says he’s feeling better and stronger on Soelden’s hard snow.
“It felt good and it was nice to get out of the gym and know I can ski,” said Ford. “I was a little protective at first because of my back and shoulder but pretty quickly relaxed into skiing and enjoyed it.”
Ford has spent the last few days training steeper terrain in Italy in preparation for this weekend. Ford, who finished a career-best fourth in Soelden last year — just weeks prior to his first career win in Beaver Creek — knows what to expect when approaching the course this year.
“My mind just goes along for the ride,” said Ford. “It’s been a year but you have to get out of the start quick and move into the tempo.”
Ford is able to visualize the entire run from making short arcs in the top flats without digging in too much, to moving into the tempo as the trail turns and heads towards the break-over. Throughout the years, the break-over has become less and less aggressive but still goes onto the steep pitch at the bottom. Ford knows to prepare for the forces and bumps, as it usually feels rough, but works on getting energy out of his skis — pushing through the technical hill without letting it discourage him. When he approaches the bottom he knows to look ahead and trust his instincts to let it go on the flats and find speed until he crosses the finish.
Outside of skiing, Ford is hard at work, staying grounded and listening to his body to keep it in tune with his skiing.
“I keep grounded through my breath and just prepare that way for all the unknowns,” said Ford. “I am being aware of how I react when something is uncomfortable.”
Ford will take this mentality into race day and is excited to get the opener in the the can before returning home to Bend for a few weeks where he’ll continue his recovery and prep for the season.
“It’s going to be good to get the race off,” said Ford. “It’s going to be a good signal to the rest of the world that we are able to ski and we are able to do it safely.”