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U.S. Athletes Find Training Paradise on Mt. Hood

By Andrew Gauthier
July, 16 2019
Hunter Henderson and Mac Forehand
Mac Forehand and Hunter Henderson taking full advantage of the sunset shoot at Mt. Hood. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Ryan Wyble)

Over a week of U.S. freeski and snowboard summer training camp is in the books and it’s been anything but boring for U.S Team athletes. Thanks to U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s official training partners Timberline Lodge and Ski Area, Windells Camp, and High Cascade Snowboard Camp, skiers and riders were not only able to get multiple repetitions on the amazing terrain at Mt Hood, but athletes also had a chance to unwind, build team comradery, and experience the mountain in a very unique way. From an overnight team BBQ at 7,000 feet to a sunset photo and video shoot, athletes took full advantage of their time on the Palmer Glacier. 

On the evening of Friday, July 12th, 17 athletes across the U.S. Snowboard slopestyle and the  U.S. Freeski slopestyle and halfpipe teams enjoyed a night at the famed Silcox Hut. The Silcox Hut at Timberline Lodge and Ski Area is the ultimate bed & breakfast experience at elevation and is open all year for overnight stays for groups of 12 to 24 people. 

“Once we saw the amazing set up at the Silcox Hut, we decided we had to set up a BBQ and overnight for the athletes in 2019,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Head Freeski and Snowboard Coach Mike Jankowski. “It was truly an awesome experience that we definitely plan to do in the coming years with more of the teams.”

The BBQ wasn’t just burgers and dogs, but also offered learning opportunities for athletes. During the BBQ, Wade Gilbert from the USOPC (United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee) Apollo Project shared some ideas and information with athletes and coaches in regards to the National Team Coach Education Program. In addition, athletes had the chance to pick the brains of the top former athletes including U.S. Snowboard Team alumnus and Olympian Louie Vito as well as former U.S. Snowboard Team member and Olympic snowboard halfpipe coach Elijah Teter - who recently took on a new role as Director of Snowboarding for Wy’East Mountain Academy and High Cascade Snowboard Camp - in a Q&A format. After the Q&A, athletes were then shuttled via snowcats to a freshly groomed and salted park setup complete with two rope tows and three hours of sunset riding.

“The overnight at Silcox Hut was an incredible experience for the athletes,” said U.S. Snowboard Slopestyle and Big Air National Development Coach Nichole Mason. “The stoke was indescribable on the top of a mountain while the sun was setting. To have all the rookie kids intermixed from the freeski and snowboard teams interacting in such a positive way was amazing to witness. It was a priceless experience to see friendships blossom that will last throughout their careers.”

The sunset shoot has been a tradition for seven years at U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Mt. Hood training camp. Some might not consider a photo and video shoot part of an athlete’s training, but it is very much an important part of what makes them a true and well-rounded freeski and snowboard athlete. A recent report conducted by U.S. Ski & Snowboard called the Athlete Project unveiled the fact that athletes desire additional resources when it comes to capturing and producing content, especially at training camps. Access to more quality content allows athletes to take the lead in building their own brand and audience, which benefits the entire sport as a whole. Not to mention, their busy competition schedules often don’t allow them to collect as much content as they would like, so filming at a training camp is a major benefit for freeskiers and riders who are constantly trying to balance these two worlds. 

“Filming is really important to me and my career as a freeskier,“ said U.S. Freeski Pro Team member Colby Stevenson (Park City, Utah). “Content is what can build your audience, set you apart from other skiers, and also keeps you motivated as competition can sometimes be frustrating. It’s really cool that the U.S. Team and Timberline invested in the opportunity for athletes to capture some great content in a beautiful environment in the midst of an official training camp.”

After the sunset shoot, athletes returned to Silcox Hut. Some of the team woke up for sunrise followed by a delicious waffle and fruit breakfast. After they refueled from their busy night at the park, the team booted up and walked right over to the Palmer chair for another busy day of training at Timberline’s Pro Park. It was on-snow convenience at its finest.

There is something special about breaking out of the box and adding these unique elements to U.S. Ski & Snowboard training camps and it would not be possible without the support of Timberline Lodge & Ski Area, which provided amazing terrain, facilities, and went above and beyond by offering access to the Silcox Hut for the athletes. Stay tuned for more content coming out of U.S. freeski and snowboard summer training camp at Mt. Hood.