With just over a month before the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup opening weekend Head Coach Trevor Wagner says it’s time for the U.S. Ski Team women’s technical program to start picking up the pace at Valle Nevado.
“This place is sweet because we have around six hills to choose from for training and they all feature different terrain,” said Wagner. “We never let them get too comfortable on one slope. Plus, each day we lengthened the course to amp things up. The girls are coming right along, but we’ve got around five weeks until Soelden. It’s time to step everything up.”
Four-time Olympian Sarah Schleper is on board all the way. As are Olympians Hailey Duke and Megan McJames plus Kiley Staples and 2010 Nature Valley NASTAR Champion Jeanette Saylor, who spent the week running giant slalom gates with the Team.
“I’m always ready for more runs,” said Schleper. “Yesterday we probably ran around 500 gates with four runs of giant slalom and five runs of slalom. It felt awesome and all the girls are ripping, but we’re ready to step it up some more in this next block.”
“Schlep is always pushing it and this is the perfect spot for us to push it,” added Wagner. “We capped our GS block yesterday with a 1:15 course at around 11,000 feet and she was still ready for more. It was also cool having Jeanette here. She was working just as hard as anyone.”
Also gearing up in Valle Nevado was Resi Stiegler, who made her return-to-snow after suffering a severely broken leg while training giant slalom in Colorado last November. The 2006 Olympian spent the week free skiing on her GS skis and even clicked into her new slalom boards for a few runs after making the switch to Rossignol in the spring.
“Skiing was awesome, much better than I expected,” said Stiegler. “Giant slalom free skiing was great but I have a lot to work on. Today I put my slalom skis on and zoom zoom zoom, it felt amazing. I can’t wait till I get to train gates. This has been the best trip to Chile yet.”
Stiegler will now return home for a week before moving out to Park City for more strength testing. If everything stays on track, she’ll be back on snow in Saas Fee, Switzerland with the Team prior to Soelden next month.
Action in Valle Nevado now shifts to a slalom focus with the speed group, which includes Olympic champion Lindsey Vonn, moving over from nearby Portillo for the block. Three-time Olympic medalist Julia Mancuso plans to hang back in Portillo in order to keep working on speed training.
“We’ll kick things off with everyone here on Monday,” said Wagner. “We have some really good slalom training options here too, particularly a short slope directly next to a ground lift. Valle Nevado has been watering the heck out of that thing and it’s perfect for getting in a ton of laps.”
Following Soelden, the World Cup swings to the Arctic Circle of Levi, Finland in mid November before settling into the North American swing with the annual Aspen Winternational at Aspen, CO over Thanksgiving weekend.