With one of the most successful winters in US skiing history in the books, athletes across the country are hitting summer training in full stride.
The NNF’s summer series is here to provide these athletes with the experiences they need to train together, work together, and learn from the successes their peers are having on the international circuit. Over the course of the next three months, top juniors from every region of the country will have the opportunity to work with the US Ski Team’s coaches and each other at Regional and National Elite Group camps. With long days, hot temperatures, and plenty of inspiration from last winter to be found, US skiers are ready to work hard and look forward to even greater success on the World stage once the snow flies next winter.
Up first in this series is the U18 National Training Group camp being held in Whistler, British Columbia this week.
The National Training Group (NTG) is a key developmental pipeline for top junior skiers to start working with the US Ski Team and to gain familiarity training with peer skiers. Selected by US Ski and Snowboard based on performances at last year’s Senior Nationals and other USSS sanctioned races, the U18 group is the first time many of the top juniors spread across the country have the opportunity to train together and work with the US Ski Team’s coaching staff.
The camp being held in Whistler is offering this experience, especially since the traditional sponsored U18 racing trip for these caliber skiers – the Nordic Nations Cup – was canceled last January due to COVID-19.
That fact captures a unique feature about the particular group of junior skiers that are gathered in British Columbia this week to train; their resiliency. They have come-of-age ski racing during a time when the familiar rhythms of a ski season have been disrupted over and over again by the global pandemic. Yet they’ve found ways to stand out as skiers with extraordinary promise. They’ve faced challenges unknown to previous generations of skiers, and through them, have the capacity to dream of successes unknown to those generations as well.
For those at Whistler Camp, their introduction to international racing was supposed to come last January, as part of the NNF-sponsored Nordic Nations trip. Each year, the US has sent a delegation to the signature Scandinavian championship event, and the plan was to do the same this year in Norway until a COVID-19 surge there caused new travel restrictions to be imposed a mere two weeks before the trip was scheduled.
Still recognizing the importance of having the top U18 athletes in the country meet, train, and compete with each other, US Ski and Snowboard and the NNF looked for the right opportunity to convene. As the domestic competitive ski season finished up with SuperTour finals in Whistler last March, an idea began to take root.
For many of the U18 skiers, their goals for this next season would be geared towards making the US team for the FIS Junior World Ski Championships (Junior Worlds). In 2023, Junior Worlds is taking place at Whistler. The Olympic Park in British Columbia could be a bridge between the resiliency of the U18 NTG athletes racing through COVID and their future dreams.
Plans were made, invites were sent, and now, this week in Whistler, that bridge between the past and future is being crossed. With the support of NNF and US Ski and Snowboard, some of the USA’s youngest, most promising skiers are taking their unique insights into developing as a top athlete in the age of COVID to the rollerski loop in Whistler, at once learning from and inspiring US skiing to look ahead to next winter with anticipation and hope for new successes done in new ways.
Stay tuned to the NNF News page to hear from the athletes currently hard at work in Whistler.