Doug and Kelley Lewis’ ELITEAM summer camps program has gained notoriety across the ski community as one of the most engaging, all-encompassing dryland youth camps for U12 to U16 athletes. Packed with information ranging from high-quality physical training to sports nutrition and sports psychology, ELITEAM has helped give athletes across the racing community the skills necessary to become complete athletes and take their ski racing to the next level.
“I remember being really nervous before going [to camp] for the first time as a 12-year-old because I wasn’t really working out a lot and I was pretty scared of the whole concept,” recalls U.S. Ski Team Olympian, Alice Merryweather. “The way that they presented working out and pushing your limits, they just made it super fun. I would leave camp feeling really confident and proud of myself, and it opened up the whole world of working out by making it a lot less scary than I initially thought it would be.”
Back in October of 2019, the Lewis duo started developing a concept to extend their reach and give the gift of strength and confidence to even more kids than the couple hundred they saw in-person every summer. Hence, Dig Deep 2020 was born, a summer online training program designed to bring kids the best of what ELITEAM camps have to offer in their very own home. What the Lewis’ did not expect, was for their camp to be turning the corner at such a time in history where the possibility of conducting an in-person summer camp may no longer be an option. Now more than ever, access to an all-encompassing online training tool may be the answer parents, clubs, and coaches need to help keep their kids active, engaged, and strong during this strange lull in the sport.
“The whole purpose of ELITEAM is to educate and inspire, and that’s really what we love to do particularly with this age group,” says Kelley Lewis. “The natural extension of that is, ‘How do we reach more kids?’ At camp, we’re working directly with them and ELITEAM is just full of energy and fun, so our challenge is how do we bring that forward.”
ELITEAM’s online summer program keeps fun at the center of its mission. It’s not just a packet of strength and conditioning exercises mixed in with some nutrition education and sports psych tips, it’s much more. For the months of June, July, and August, the Dig Deep 2020 program outlines a schedule that takes kids through their challenges with a healthy dose of interactive videos, recipes, contests, and prizes.
Mondays, Wednesday’s and Fridays will introduce a new workout, Each new exercise is accompanied by an instructional video, so it’s easy to follow along while practicing proper form and technique. In proper ELITEAM fashion, there is always some kind of challenge, contest, or both involved, offering the opportunity to win prizes by engaging with other kids in the community through photo and video-submission based contests. Each workout has been developed by Doug and Kelley in collaboration with Michael Bingaman, a certified strength and conditional specialist who coaches World Cup athletes. The Lewis’ bring forth their knowledge as retired world-class racers in addition to Bingaman’s extensive experience developing athletes competing at the highest level in the nation.
June focuses on building a broad base of movements, patterns, sports, and intensities that will set the physical and mental foundations for more specific training to come. July will introduce workouts that encourage physical adaptations to increasing demands in both the areas of strength & power. In August, the focus is on strength endurance and power endurance to progress into a more sport-specific realm.
A slow-build design ensures participating kids at the U12-U16 level are getting the tools they need to crush it when it comes to clicking into skis again.
“I think it’s common for kids to see what elite athletes are doing on Instagram and want to mimic that but it doesn’t necessarily match the needs of those kids,” explains Bingaman. “Really they need broad exposure to varied movements, varied patterns, varied time durations, a lot of total body stuff, and a lot of creativity and movement versus structured training. That is the goal of the programming, to expose them to a lot of different things and return them back to basic skills that will be built upon not just through the program but through their entire career as athletes.”
Tuesday is for mental strength training, working on components vital to ski racing, such as visualization and goal setting. On Thursdays, the focus falls on nutrition, with special recipes developed alongside the sports elite-level sports dietician Megan Chacosky. In addition, special guest workouts featuring U.S. Ski Team Olympians, as well as Zoom webinars with a few of those top-level athletes will be sprinkled throughout the course of the program. At the beginning of each week, Doug and Kelley will check-in and feature some of their favorite photos and videos from participating athletes, call out prize winners and continue to motivate each kid to keep pushing into next week. Each kid also gets an ELITEAM bib, with a special space for kids to designate their desired “super-athlete” name. All-in-all, the online program aims to build a strong community as much as it aims to build an individual athlete.
“We’re trying to round out the athlete in this summer program so when they arrive back on the slopes in September they’re bigger, stronger, faster, more confident, and have the tools to take their skiing and sport to the next level,” says Doug.
“It’s a way to keep kids focused and engaged all summer long,” says Kelley. “When they come to camp they get into it for a week and then they go home and then they get pulled away by other things. This is designed to bring consistency.”
Consistency is a huge benefit that both Merryweather and Bingaman recognize in the program. Without access to gyms, younger athletes currently are at a disadvantage. But ELITEAM’s program offers to close the gap by providing structure in the absence of the norm. As an at-home program, kids, parents, coaches, and clubs can cater to various elements of ELITEAM’s system to best suit them and their schedule. The benefits of the program remain the same as in-person camps with added flexibility.
“Honestly, I’m jealous of kids that get to go through this,” laughs Bingaman. “I didn’t get exposed to anything like this as a kid and being shown this as a 12-year-old would have been the coolest thing ever. It’s an incredible opportunity for kids to learn values around sports psychology, and training, and nutrition. These kids are learning really valuable lessons not just in sport but in life.”
For athletes like Merryweather, attending ELITEAM camps was a key component in her ski racing career. After two summers as a camper, she came back as a counselor and has continued to share workouts and other tips as she’s advanced on the World Cup stage. Being an ELITEAMer taught her that she has what it takes to push herself, that her limits are much higher than she thinks. Those lessons are some that she hopes young athletes can take away from the program, whether in person or online, and she’s confident Doug and Kelley’s infectious energy that inspired her to be a better version of herself will push kids to see the possibility in their own lives as well.
Being 11,12,13 years old is a tough time in anyone’s life. You’re coming of age and it’s an awkward time,” says Merryweather. “ELITEAM helped me feel my passion for skiing and figure out that’s what made me really happy. That self-confidence that I gained from working out, feeling good about myself, and pushing myself I hope that kids that enroll in this program take that away as well.”
ELITEAM has partnered with some incredible sponsors to not only raise the awareness of the program but to provide valuable and fun prizes for members throughout the program. Over $10,000 in prizes are to be given out throughout the 3 months. Each week, a minimum of three prizes will be drawn from Dig Deep members who send in photos and videos from their workouts showing specific exercises and fun challenges. The list of Sponsors includes Marker/Dalbello/Volkl, Dynastar/Lange, and Green Mountain Valley School as well as Briko, SYNC, Rollerblade, Fuxi Racing, and World Cup Supply.
In addition to ELITEAM’s fun, weekly prizes, there are also some big and exciting items to be given away. Dynastar has created a unique contest called “Speed Doesn’t Come Out of the Blue” and will be awarding a complete race set-up of skis (x2), bindings (x2), and boots to a U12, U14, and U16. These will be awarded to the Dig Deep Athletes who show their training progress throughout the summer as well as their commitment and dedication to ELITEAM’s online curriculum. Volkl has donated a full junior race set-up equipped with skis, boots, and bindings. Briko has donated three giant slalom helmets, three pairs of goggles, and three cycling helmets. These will be awarded to the Dig Deep Athletes who show their training progress throughout the summer as well as their commitment and dedication to ELITEAM’s Online Curriculum.
Registration for the 12-week online summer training program opens on Friday, May 1, 2020. A special introductory offer of more than 30% is being made from May 1-15, so head on over to ELITEAM’s website to register. The official start date of the program is June 1, 2020.