Looking Towards the Future in Lake Placid, New York
Ostensibly, last week’s camp in Lake Placid, New York, was a U16 camp. The first step into the national development system for the top U16 performers at last year’s Junior Nationals, getting together to meet their peers from across the country, do some training, engage in some competition, and see one of American skiing’s premier ski venues as they’ll get to see it for many more years to come – a place where skiing has always been, and remains, the heart of a community. In fact, the National U16 camp was all that, but through a couple of special guests and the dedication of the coaches and athletes present, it also served as a demonstration of the care and commitment that those working in US skiing today have put into creating a community where the premiant ethos is teamwork. A whole community, spanning a continent, driving towards the future together, searching for success not just in nordic skiing, but for nordic skiing too.
The U16 skiers present spanned ski communities from Maine to Alaska, came together in the Adirondacks and enjoyed all that has drawn skiers there for nearly a century. Mountain runs through the pines, jumps in the Lake after each workout, and newly re-developed ski training facilities, including a rollerski track that follows the Lake Placid ski 5 k step-for-step. They were led by a sampling of some of the talented coaches working in junior skiing across the country.
There were also a couple of days where the skiers looked up in their workouts and saw a skier that many already looked up to. Ben Ogden, the current holder of the FIS World Cup’s Best Young Skier bib, hopped over Lake Champlain from Vermont to join U16 camp for a couple of days. Ogden hopped in with U16 campers for an uphill running time trial up Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and then got to working through classic sprinting specifics with his younger peers on the rollerski loop (Video HERE). Ogden’s coach on the US Ski Team, US Head Coach Matt Whitcomb, also joined in with campers, working through skate technique, delving into the little nuances of ski racing, and adding to the energy and exuberance already observable in this newest group of nationally competitive skiers.
U16 marked the culmination of a summer of camps for US skiing. And, if the skill, passion, and drive among those skiers present was any indication, it’s been a good one for the whole of US skiing, setting the community up for a season of success this winter, and in the many winters to come after.
(Photos: Courtesy of the Athletes and Coaches at U16 National Camp)