Moguls Returns to Snow at Squaw Valley
Warmer temperatures usually signal the end of the ski season, but for athletes on the U.S. Ski Team, winter never truly ends and warmer temperatures mean chasing snow around the globe. The U.S. Moguls Team held their first on-snow camp at official U.S. Ski & Snowboard training site Squaw Valley, May 2-15. With 682 inches of snow so far this season, Squaw provided an ideal return to snow with perfect spring skiing conditions, allowing the team to train 12 days during the two-week camp.
The focus of this camp was skill development. “This is a chance to break down the athletes’ ski skills and rebuild them without the pressure of competition,” explained U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Head Moguls Coach, Matt Gnoza. By analyzing last season’s scores, and training, and competition skiing videos, Gnoza, and his team worked to address issues that needed tackling in the off-season.
Training days started early with an 8 a.m. lift load to take advantage of the morning conditions before the afternoon temperatures really started cooking things up. The team had access to an exclusive 250-meter moguls course next to a groomed run of the same pitch, making the transition from flat work to moguls very smooth. Skills focused on during this camp included absorption, timing, and edging. After formal training, athletes took advantage of Squaw’s amazing terrain and free-skied off of the KT-22 lift.
Eight team members made the trek out to California including new team nominees Nick Page (Park City, Utah), and Alex Lewis (Carlisle, Mass.).
“I was very impressed with Nick and Alex,” said Gnoza. “They have a great skill set and work ethic - their home programs should be proud.” Page hails from Park City, Utah, and was part of the Wasatch Freestyle Team. “Nick has a drive and a dedication for greatness that is hard to find. No matter the training conditions, Nick will be out there giving his full effort to get better, and it is a pleasure to coach him. I’m excited to see where he’ll go in the future,” said Wasatch Freestyle Coach Bryon Wilson, former U.S. Ski Team athlete, 2010 Olympic bronze medalist, and the 2018-19 Freestyle Coach of the Year. Lewis comes from the East and skied with Killington Mountain School. “Alex’s natural ability is surpassed only by his relentless work ethic. He could not be more deserving of this opportunity. I look forward to seeing him take this very big next step in his career,” said KMS Freestyle Program Director Kris Pepe.
Because moguls skiing is such a dynamic sport, and athletes each attacked the course in their own way, each athlete had different personal focuses they worked on. Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.) tackled ankle flexion and hip mobility. Olivia Giaccio (Redding, Conn.) spent time on weight shifting and timing. Tom Rowley (Long Beach, N.Y.) worked on softer absorption and upper body mobility. With individualized, tailored training, the moguls team is building a diverse, deep field of athletes, setting them up for success in 2019-20.
This is the third year running that the moguls team has been able to take advantage of Squaw Valley’s stellar snowfall. What makes this camp particularly productive is how Squaw sets the team up for success with lodging and gym facilities right at the base of the hill. “When we come to Squaw we can have a singular focus on training,” said Gnoza. “I’m very happy with the progress made at this camp, the athletes worked hard and skied with focus and purpose every run. I want to thank the Squaw crew for all their help in making this camp so successful, we’re very grateful that Squaw Valley is such a great partner to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.”
The moguls team heads next to Mt. Hood, Ore., for the first of a series of on-snow camps to be held at Timberline in these next summer months.