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Saas-Fee Camp Kicks Off For Snowboard & Freeski Teams

By Andrew Gauthier
October, 11 2018
Brita Sigourney Trains at the Stomping Grounds
Brita Sigourney trains at the Stomping Grounds in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. (The Stomping Grounds Park)

The northern hemisphere winter season has kicked off at the Saas-Fee Stomping Grounds in Switzerland, the training camp for U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s slopestyle, big air, halfpipe, and snowboardcross athletes.

They may be a long way from home, but they will certainly not be lonely. A total of 57 athletes including nine Snowboardcross, 25 halfpipe, and 23 slopestyle athletes are putting in work on the glacier ahead of the competitive season, which continues with FIS Snowboard and Freeski World Cup big air in Modena, Italy, Nov 3.

 

This is not the first time U.S. Ski & Snowboard slopestyle, big air, and halfpipe athletes flocked to Saas-Fee to prepare for the busy season of competition ahead. They have been heading to Saas-Fee for training and competition on and off for eight years.

“I’m always hyped to be heading back out to Saas-Fee,” said U.S.Freeski Team veteran Bobby Brown (Denver). “It’s always awesome coming out here. It’s an amazing park, beautiful town, and great times with my teammates. It’s going to be an unreal two weeks.”

Red Gerard
Olympic Champion Red Gerard enjoys some quality slopestyle training at the Saas-Fee Stomping Grounds. (The Stomping Grounds Park)

 

However, for snowboardercross athletes, Saas-Fee will be a new experience. The last time they trained at Saas-Fee was in 2005. Also, it’s rare for numerous disciplines to be represented at the same camp and location. This makes for an interesting dynamic.

“We are stoked to be in Saas-Fee for the first time,” Said Sochi Olympic bronze medalist Alex Deibold (Salt Lake City). “All the other teams have been raving about what a great spot it is, and it will be fun to spend some time on snow with the freeski and snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle crews.”

U.S. Snowboardcross Head Coach Peter Foley echoed that sentiment saying: “It’s great to have everyone interacting from the different U.S. teams here. It really ups the level for everyone to see their teammates working hard and it’s cool for them because they aren’t always at the same place at the same time on snow. This year, the course they have built is the best it’s ever been in Saas-Fee. There are a few different start options and the jumps and berms are full-size.”

After a summer of hard work in the gym building strength, flexibility, and stamina, the athletes shift focus in Saas-Fee to dialing in their tricks, techniques, maneuvers, air awareness, and style. These elements of skiing and snowboarding cannot be replicated in the four walls of a gym or training facility. Although U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Center of Excellence in Park City, Utah offers many quality resources including a world-class gym, water ramps, trampolines, airbags, and even a skateboard park, there is still truly nothing like the real thing.

Athletes will be training on snow through October 20 in Saas-Fee, working with U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s coaching staff daily, putting in the hard work that will pay off in competition.

“It’s extremely important to utilize every day,” said Foley. “You need to be smart and stick with your plan being conscious of not trying to overdo things or trying to accelerate progression so much that it becomes counterproductive.”  

Following the Modena World Cup, U.S. Snowboard Team athletes will move onto Beijing, China for a World Cup big air event, then to Copper Mountain, Colo. for the first halfpipe competition of the season at the Toyota U.S. Grand Prix Dec. 6-8. The FIS World Cup snowboardcross season kicks off in Montafon, Austria, Dec. 12-16.

Follow U.S. Ski & Snowboard and our athletes on social media for sneak peeks into training camp at the Saas-Fee Stomping Grounds.

Facebook: @USSkiandSnowboard

Instagram: @USFreeskiTeam, @USSnowboardTeam