Laughter, Culture, Fitness, Fatigue Come Together at Bend Camp
Fitness, technique, and speed are key attributes to becoming a world-class cross country skier. But culture, laughter, and fun are what make a great team! Fortunately, all those attributes came together May 18-31, as the U.S. Cross Country Team hosted its first on-snow camp of the season in Bend, Ore., at the Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center.
“The camp had an increased level of excitement and humor with the addition of some new athletes,” noted U.S. Ski & Snowboard Head Cross Country Coach Chris Grover.
This year’s team features a number of new faces, especially on the development team, with six new athletes, and a new coach, Bernie Nelson, who joined U.S. Ski & Snowboard as the development team coach last month. “Bend camp was our first athletic project with Bernie Nelson officially part of our coaching team,” Grover said, “and she impressed her colleagues with her enthusiasm, knowledge, and work ethic; she is already an amazing addition to our staff.”
“It’s been so much fun getting to know our new development team and seeing how the team culture molds itself each year,” said 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist Jessie Diggins (Afton, Minn.), who posted a number of off-the-cuff interviews with her new teammates on Instagram. “The atmosphere and team spirit have been incredible and I think this will be a really fun year!”
Zak Ketterson (Marquette, Mich.), a two-time NCAA All-American at Northern Michigan University, is one of the new faces on the team this year, and he came away from the Bend camp with a greater understanding of what it takes to achieve success at the next level of his career.
“This camp has been an amazing experience for me,” said Ketterson. “It is the first time that I have had the opportunity to train alongside veteran U.S. Ski Team athletes…and it has been very motivating to learn from the other skiers here. These types of camps will make me a better skier in the future.
“Last summer, I trained almost entirely alone,” Ketterson continued. “When you train by yourself, it is difficult to know your strengths and weaknesses because you only have yourself as a benchmark. Now that I have been able to train with so many top athletes, I realize that there are areas that I need to improve. This is super exciting for me because it gives me ideas for what to work on in my future training.”
Much like Ketterson, eight-time U.S. Champion Caitlin Patterson (Craftsbury, Vt.), a new member on the B Team this season, also learned to pump up the intensity being around her new teammates.
“One thing I'll take away (from the camp) is the concept of really bringing the focus and intensity to key workouts, such as intervals and strength,” she said. “Most of my fellow U.S. Ski Team teammates do a great job of bringing the intensity to the hard sessions, and it's something I'd like to emulate more in the future.”
While the athletes brought the intensity, Mt. Bachelor served up excellent snow and trail conditions, thanks to 350 inches of snowfall this season. “Mt. Bachelor provided great grooming of nearly 40 km of trails daily and we had excellent snow coverage,” Grover said. “We feel like we accomplished almost all of our athletic, technical and team culture goals for the camp. Each athlete brought a lot of professionalism, focus, and enthusiasm to the daily training.”
Following the first camp of the season, a number of athletes return to their home base for the month of June to continue preparations for the 19-20 season. “I’ll head back east to Stratton (Vermont) for a solid block of training with my SMST2 teammates,” Diggins said. “Then at the end of June, I’ll join the women of the Norwegian National Team for one of their team camps.”
For Novie McCabe (Winthrop, Wash.), Kendall Kramer (Fairbanks, Alaska), Johnny Hagenbuch (Ketchum, Idaho) and Noel Keefe (Steamboat Springs, Colo.), they are off to Park City, Utah, June 16-19, for U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s annual #OneTeam Rookie Camp. The U.S. Cross Country Team will also host additional camps throughout the summer, including Norway, New Zealand, Park City and Lake Placid, N.Y. In addition, many club camps will also include U.S. Cross Country Ski Team athletes over the summer, offering additional opportunities for athletes to prep for the 2019-20 season, but most importantly, the opportunity to push and learn from each other.
“The one thing I will take away from (Bend) camp is that it is important for the best skiers in the country to get together once in a while to share ideas and learn from one another,” Ketterson said. “I have been very pleased with the openness and friendliness of both the coaches and athletes at this camp. Every skier has his strengths and weaknesses, but between every skier on the U.S. Ski Team we all have things we can learn from one another.”