Shiffrin Wraps On-Snow Camp at Official Training Site Timberline
For two-time Olympic champion and Land Rover ambassador Mikaela Shiffrin, a recent on-snow camp at Official Training Site Timberline Resort & Ski Area in Mt. Hood, Ore. was not only productive but brought back a lot of memories, too. This was the first time Mikaela had been to Timberline since she was 17-years-old and had a slalom camp with the U.S. Ski Team, and prior to that when she was 14-years-old with Burke Mountain Academy.
Due to COVID, U.S. Ski & Snowboard has been working to find training opportunities closer to home. A massive amount of planning and energy went into creating the COVID-19 protocol, led by U.S. Ski & Snowboard High-Performance Director Troy Taylor and Lead Physical Therapist Gillian Bower, along with team managers, staff, and beyond, enabling alpine athletes across training groups to have yet another successful round of training camps on snow at Timberline.
Head Coach Mike Day said the camp at Timberline went very well, "We had lots of sunshine and productive training sessions. Our team put in a massive effort to produce excellent training." He added, "Mikaela skied more slalom volume than any camp in recent history. She made great progress in both slalom and giant slalom."
Much like the previous camp at Official Training Site Copper Mountain Colo., the entire staff (notably coach and strength and conditioning coach Jeff Lackie and Atomic serviceman Johann Strobl) was not able to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, so a group of staff stepped in to fill the void. "Special thanks to Coley Oliver (Team X and former NCAA All-American at University of New Hampshire), Eric Colon (Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club), and John Mulligan (Legend) for joining us. They worked super hard and brought great attitudes and insights to this project," Mike noted. "We also want to thank Gretchen, and the whole crew at Mt. Hood, for providing a productive and safe training environment."
Being at Timberline offered up a little nostalgia for Mikaela, and brought back memories—some good, some not-so-great—as she spent a lot of time up in Mt. Hood as a young ski racer, going to camps every summer for about six years. She remembered, "...after a bunch of the camps my brother and I had at Mt. Hood, my parents would come and we’d all have a mini vaca down in Hood River. They’d go windsurfing in the Gorge and I’d take lessons in the Hook. I got stung by a bee, while windsurfing (don’t ask me how…) once. My hand blew up like an actual balloon. Another time, my brother went out windsurfing on the river with my parents and got stuck in this kind of toilet bowl of waves and currents all converging in one area. He was stuck there for nearly an hour and nobody could find him. We were all freaking out looking for him, and when he finally got back to the launch site everyone just broke down with relief."
Following her camp in Hood, she and her mother, Eileen, spent some time in Hood River, and Mikaela even visited her favorite taco stand—the Downwinder—saying on their Instagram that she doesn't just "like" their tacos, but she "LOVES* ...100/10 would recommend😘".
Another memory Mikaela has from childhood is when she got sick and heened to go to an aiport hotel with her mom while she got better. "That was the same year where my brother broke both of his hands when his buddy accidentally tripped him off of a retaining wall, and my dad needed to storm the hospital to order them to perform surgery after Taylor had developed carpal tunnel and was getting sever nerve damage with blue fingers for over 24 hours. He still has numbness in his fingers…" She added,
Needless to say we have a ton of memories of the Mt. Hood and the Hood River area. A lot of those with my dad as well, so it was incredibly special to go back after so long and get such a productive camp. Those memories came back in flashes at random moments, like when my mom and I stopped to watch the windsurfers and kite-boarders for a little while and could perfectly imagine the time when she and my dad would be rigging up to go out on the water as if it was yesterday. Or trudging through the melting snow to get to the Palmer lift at 5am every morning and remembering how it felt to do that when I was nine, carrying a backpack that was heavier than me and stumbling over my skis and poles.
For Mikaela, it was a pleasure to see the new generation of "little rippers going up every morning and still being as psyched on skiing as I was, even though we had to keep six feet apart and wear masks in the lift lines and everything else that we have to do right now to keep our sport going…that was special. I was training on the first lane basically under the lift line and waved to kids riding the lift each run and I kept thinking how cool it is that after so many years of going to Chile and New Zealand and Argentina and all of these other places for our summer prep, we’re finally training at home." It's incredibly important to Mikaela that she and teammates make an effort to encourage and support the next generation of ski racers, and she believes that training alongside them was a rewarding experience on both sides of the coin.
Up next, Mikaela hopes to travel to Europe for a final camp prior to the recently announced early start to the FIS Ski World Cup season in Soelden, Austria, slated for Oct. 17-18. In the meantime, Mikaela wants to express her gratitude to Timberline, her staff, and U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
"It was so cool to have basically the whole women’s team right there, training right next to the next generation of U.S. ski racers. And it was even better that we had such a productive camp," she reflected. "Even with some really tough, warm temperatures, we got so much out of every day and I am SO thankful that through this pandemic we have found a way to get training safely within our own country."
U.S. Ski & Snowboard sanctioned training camp attendance is optional. U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes and staff should not feel pressure to travel to train. All sanctioned training camp policies and protocols are subject to change based on local, state, and federal public health orders, updated guidance from the USOPC, or updated U.S. Ski & Snowboard policies.