Ski cross athletes head to Telluride for training

Posted By: Zeke Piestrup on December 1, 2009 2:32 pm

TELLURIDE, CO – With their World Cup season just around the corner, the U.S. Ski Team’s Ski Cross athletes are about to land back in Telluride Dec. 5-11 for its second training camp there in as many years and, according to Head Coach Tyler Shepherd, nothing is better than training at Telluride.

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Telluride has been gracious enough to host us both last year and this year for our camp,” Shepherd said. “The community is  very excited about both snowboardcross and ski cross being there and they’ve done a phenomenal job at putting us up and showing us the red carpet.”

X Games gold medalists Casey Puckett (Aspen, CO) and Daron Rahlves (Sugar Bowl, CA) will be on tap in Telluride, along with a slew of ski cross up-and-comers, to take advantage of on-course training time. Also in Telluride will be U.S. Snowboarding’s snowboardcross athletes. Both teams will train alongside each other, lending their areas of expertise to one another.

“We can learn some stuff from them and they can learn stuff from us. It’s good because we get a little crossover there. This gives us a chance as a team to get together. You get that team feel and we can push each other,” Puckett said. “Not a lot of places have full length courses and we will have that in Telluride.”

According to Shepherd, one of the most important parts of the camp is getting time on the full length course, which is being built by the Olympic course designer.

“The lucky part of this is that they’re going to be preparing Telluride for the World Cup snowboardcross event, so we have Jeff Ihaksi doing the building down there,” Shepherd said. “We’re going to be ahead of the game because we’re going to mimic the Olympic start and work on that as much as we can over there.”

The start is something that Puckett, along with the rest of the cross athletes in Telluride, will be heavily focused on.

“The start is 75 percent of the importance of a heat. It’s how you win a heat,” Puckett said. “It’s extremely important to get out front because if you come out last every time you are really making it hard on yourself.”

Also on the list of things to do for Puckett and Rahlves in Telluride is selecting the right skis to compete on during the season.

“A big part of what we will do there is test skis. We’ve got a big quiver of ski cross skis and how fast they are, is a very important factor in how we race,” Puckett said.

“We need to utilize the time in Telluride to test all of our skis and make sure we are on the fastest equipment possible,” Shepherd added.

Athletes will arrive to train in Telluride Dec. 5, and after about a week of training they will head out to the season’s first ski cross World Cup in Italy Dec. 21-22.

“This is going to be our last camp before our first World Cups and Telluride is going to be a great location because you have everything you need,” Shepherd said. “It’s a great community with a great mountain and lots of terrain and they’re willing to work with us on all of our needs.”

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