Women’s Speed in Switzerland
The women’s alpine speed team would normally be heading to South America for their final Southern Hemisphere camp before making their way back up north to the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center at Copper Mountain, Colo. However, for the second year in a row, the women’s speed team is heading to the glaciers of Switzerland.
The crew, including Breezy Johnson, Bella Wright, Jackie Wiles, Keely Cashman, Mo Lebel, and Alice Merryweather—who suffered a heartbreaking season-ending injury—just wrapped a camp in Saas-Fee and will be heading back to Europe later this week for a camp in Zermatt. Two-time Olympic champion and six-time world champion, Mikaela Shiffrin, also joined the crew for a couple of days on the longboards, skiing a productive mix of slalom, giant slalom, super-G, and downhill while in Saas-Fee.
The days were full, complete with 4 am wake-up calls, busy morning commutes via tram+gondola+train+t-bar+snowmobile, sunrise inspection sessions, afternoon hikes to the Kneipp, and a visit to the cows of Saas-Fee, before an outdoor workout with a view. Rinse. Repeat. It was a mostly successful camp for the team.
Olympian Jackie Wiles, who was injured prior to the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, has been battling back from injuries and had a successful return to snow in Saas-Fee after having two surgeries, one on each knee, since March. Women’s speed team physical therapist Torey Anderson said, “we gradually increased volume over the two weeks and Jackie ended the camp really strong.”
One unique element of the camp was that the Europa Cup, World Cup tech, and World Cup speed women overlapped at the same location. Head Women’s Coach Paul Kristofic commented after the camp, “Having all the U.S. women’s teams converge to one location is both rare and unique.” He continued, “Over the past three weeks in Saas-Fee, the women’s teams from the European Cup group to each World Cup group took advantage of perfect conditions and weather, and achieved a very productive camp from all perspectives. Cross-training between our groups and international pace proved to be valuable. The whole world was training in Saas-Fee. Extremely early morning commuting got us on the glacier at daybreak to take full advantage of hard snow and a variety of slope choices that Saas-Fee provided to us. All objectives were achieved across all disciplines.”
In what was supposed to be Merryweather’s “comeback season,” after sitting out the 2020-21 season to take the time needed to focus on health and happiness as she pursued intensive treatment for an eating disorder, Merryweather had an unfortunate crash. All signs were pointing towards brighter days, as Merryweather tackled a successful strength and conditioning period as well as return-to-snow camps in Official Training Site Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and then Saas-Fee, with many bright moments both on and off the mountain with her teammates. She was skiing strong, showing her teammates, coaches, competitors—and most importantly, herself—how far she had come the last 12 months...and just how much joy she had found in skiing again.
While at camp in Saas-Fee, Merryweather crashed while going 80mph during a downhill training day this past Wednesday at Saas-Fee towards the bottom of the course, resulting in a broken tibia and fibula, and a scraped-up and swollen face. Further evaluation back Stateside concluded that, in addition to a broken tibia and fibula, she also suffered a torn ACL, meniscus, and partially torn MCL in her crash.
Anderson, who has been by Merryweather’s side throughout her journey, spoke poignantly of the speed team’s strength and courage following her crash, “The ladies all demonstrated so much strength and courage after Alice’s crash,” she said. “They took a few soul ski runs together to get back into their bodies and out of their heads, and then jumped back into the course and had a few downhill runs to end the training session. They were eager to see Alice and all visited her in the hospital the next day, with lots of smiles and Swiss stuffed animals.”
Kristofic echoed Anderson’s sentiment of the team, “Unfortunately we had one serious injury with Alice Merryweather which was difficult for the whole group, but the team rallied well to finish the camp strong while supporting their fallen teammate. We all wish Alice a speedy and full recovery.”
The women’s speed team will head to Zermatt this Friday, while the women’s tech team will head to Europe in late September/early October for a final training camp prior to the FIS Ski World Cup opener in Soelden, Austria on October 23.
SKI: We Can All Learn From the First Ski Shoot Featuring and Shot by BIPOC
U.S. Ski Team alumna Lauren Samuels and brother Justin Samuels—Dartmouth College Ski Team alumnus and former U.S. Ski & Snowboard employee—went to Powder Mountain in Utah to participate in a photoshoot with Olympian and X Games standout Errol Kerr, shot by the legendary Stan Evans. As SKI wrote regarding their cover featuring Kerr, "The Cover of Our 2022 Gear Guide is An Important First"...until now, "SKI has never put a Black skier shot by a Black photographer on our cover."
Sierra Shafer, SKI Editor-in-Chief, said in her cover story,
The cover of the magazine on newsstands and sent to subscribers this week features Olympian and X Games standout Errol Kerr. In many ways, the image looks familiar—SKI has certainly featured its share of skiers gouging formidable trenches into corduroy. But the origin story of this image is unique.
When photographer Stan Evans connected with Kerr and two other skiers for a two-day photo shoot at Utah’s Powder Mountain, it was as standard as any of the hundreds of photoshoots Evans has produced in his 20-plus-year career photographing skiing and snowboarding. It was, however, the first time he’d worked alongside all Black skiers, including Lauren Samuels, the captain of the 2017 NCAA National Championship ski team, and her brother, Justin Samuels.
In fact, it was the first time any of them had been on a ski shoot with another Black skier or photographer—the first time they weren’t, in some way, standing alone. The occasion deserves to be commemorated with this, the cover of our 2022 Gear Guide.
This issue marks a new season in SKI Magazine’s story. With a fresh redesign, new logo, inspired writers, and more, we intend to change what you expect from SKI. We aim to transform what we all think a skier should look like or where a skier should go. By centering and celebrating a broader, more accurate picture of skiing both as we see it now and how we hope to see it in the future, we can be part of protecting the greatest, least important thing in the world: Skiing. (Read More)
In a story entitled "We Can All Learn From the First Ski Shoot Featuring and Shot by BIPOC" that was first published by Outside Business Journal, a partner brand of SKI, Evans poignantly wrote about the project,
This past March, SKI hired me for a stock photo shoot at Utah’s Powder Mountain. In some ways, it was pretty standard—myself and three skiers, knocking off a laundry list of imagery: high speed carving shots, laughing while carrying skis shots, après shots…the usual. On the other hand, it was unlike any photo shoot ever done in the history of skiing.
That’s because all four of us are Black.
I’ve shot skiing and snowboarding for over 20 years, but this was only the second time I’ve done an all-Black shoot. The first was 20 years ago when I organized an all-Black shoot with Keir Dillon, Ahmon Stamps, Damon Morris, and Ben Hinkley for Snowboarder. This time around, as with the first time, what struck me was the conversations we had during our time together. Being on the hill, setting marks and hitting them, creating the imagery—that’s that same as it ever was. But the discussions between shots, the places our conversations went in the evening over a meal—those are not things I’m used to talking about in this context.
Errol Kerr, the former X Games and Olympic skiercross competitor, was one of the skiers with me at Powder Mountain. In his 20 years of skiing, he’d never done a shoot with a single Black person, let alone three of us. We talked about the adversity his family went through to keep him on skis, what we’ve encountered when we’ve pushed for equity in the past, what made us feel bad, what made us feel good. It’s stuff that he’s kept mostly bottled up for his entire career.
The other two skiers were Justin and Lauren Samuels. Lauren, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team development squad, arrived at Powder Mountain in a similar position to a lot of BIPOC outdoor athletes: suddenly in high demand. Prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics, she consulted with and was talent on a Procter & Gamble shoot produced by Wieden + Kennedy. The two of us talked at length about the differences between commercial and editorial production—the pay rates, what’s fair, what’s not; what makes sense from a financial standpoint, and what needs to change from an inclusivity standpoint.
Both Lauren and Justin Samuels participated in a U.S. Ski & Snowboard diversity, equity, and inclusion panel last November entitled "Diversity in Ski Racing: The Athlete Perspective" and are also members of U.S. Ski & Snowboard's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.
Nyman Progressing at Zermatt, Eyeing Comeback Season
Olympian and "King of the Saslong," Steven Nyman, who suffered a right Achilles tendon injury in August 2020 at Official Training Site Timberline Resort & Ski Area, is currently training with the men's speed team in Zermatt, Switzerland in their second of two late summer camps at the resort.
Nyman, who caught up recently with Brian Pinelli in an article for Ski Racing Media, is "is pleased with his progress, still battling to overcome the effects of an Achilles tendon injury suffered at Mt. Hood, Oregon, in August 2020. He concedes, now at age 39 and the father of two daughters, recovery and return to racing speed require far greater patience."
“I’m feeling good – the first camp we had great conditions, beautiful sunshine every day, hard snow, a couple days canceled due to wind, but great conditions and was starting to get back into it, but to be honest I was not fast and out of balance,” Nyman tells Ski Racing Media on a call from Zermatt. “Apparently, it takes a lot longer to recover from Achilles injuries at 39, then at 27, or whenever I did it last.
“I had to realign some things, get equipment dialed again, get back up to speed according to the equipment, but once I knocked the rust off things started coming around. I’ve been fast of late – I feel comfortable and have a good setup.
“Physically, I feel great, but there are still many things to work and improve upon, but I’m really happy with the power that I can produce and overall, everything has gone well.”