The men of the U.S. Ski Team recently returned from a month-long training camp in Norway where almost the entire men’s team – both speed and tech from the World Cup down – made the trek across the Atlantic after the conclusion of the U.S. Alpine Championships.

This past season, the American and Norwegian men began a partnership where all athletes shared coaching resources on race days and both nations exchanged training opportunities in North America and abroad.

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Part of this agreement included an invitation for the American team to spend a spring training block in Norway with the opportunity to ski alongside World Cup winners Kjetil Jansrud, Henrik Kristoffersen, and Aleksander Aamodt Kilde. It was a departure from past preparation period calendars that had the U.S. men return to training mode at a time when they would otherwise be on vacation.

“I think it’s eye opening to us as a team being able to see what it takes to be number one in the world,” says American World Cup regular Tommy Biesemeyer. “What I’ve learned is how much effort and work goes into it.”

Part of the speed portion of the camp took place at Kvitfjell, site of the 1994 Olympic downhill and super G and also host to annual World Cup speed races for the men.

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Bryce Bennett snaking some downhill runs in Roeldal. Photo credit: Pepi Culver

“I know Kvitfjell from the World Cup,” Biesemeyer continues. “That usually is dark and cold. Now, we’re wearing mirrored lenses, it’s fully in the sun and it totally changes your perception of training and how you go about it. It’s just sort of like a happy, calm feeling that is a very refreshing feeling as well.”

The U.S. athletes also trained and raced at other venues around Norway including Hemsedal and Roeldal, getting not only a taste for Norway’s spring skiing, but also their culture and affinity for a peculiar colored cheese.

“It’s hard to explain, we eat a lot of brown cheese, which I haven’t really gotten accustomed to yet, but it seems to be the go-to food,” Biesemeyer explains. “I think Norwegians and Americans tend to get along really well because they have very similar culture in the sense that they are sarcastic, they like to have a good time, and they don’t take themselves too seriously. I think there is a lot of crossover between American and Norwegian culture and I think that’s what makes this camp specifically really easy for us.”

Biesemeyer sees this relationship manifest itself on the hill in how athletes and coaches – both Norwegian and American – interact with each other.

“They’re paying attention to us,” he adds. “We’re not just a number or a person running behind them. They want to know our times and they know we are chasing them. I would say we are a team. I can’t really elaborate more than that other than the fact that I’m grateful for it and it’s easy. I don’t think having this alliance is forced in any way. Both teams are very accepting of each other.”