Preparing for competition

Joelle MilholmPost Independent Staff
Kara K. Pearson Post Independent

CARBONDALE – Forget just spending time in the snow. The Colorado Rocky Mountain School skiing and snowboarding teams go way beyond celebrating powder days and spending time on the mountain as part of their regimen.The alpine, Nordic, telemark, snowboarding and off-piste teams put in a lot of work, ranging from dryland training to yoga, to better themselves for their sports.”Yoga helps with the mental clarity that is good for kids that ski. It brings focus,” said Meghan Detering, one of the CRMS telemark coaches. “A lot of what we do, whether it is trying to nail a move in the park or skiing a hard line in the backcountry or a bowl or something, it is really good for a lot of them to take that time and focus to think.”Often the teams do activities together.”We try to overlap as much as possible,” said Nordic coach Hannes Thum. “The coaches try to put all the teams together as much as we can so that it is not like competitions between teams, just everyone being psyched about skiing and the snow.”Each team ranges from four members to 20 and, with the snow building up, all are preparing for the primes of their seasons.

Outside of the yoga, running and roller skiing, the eight members of the CRMS Nordic team possess a very unique element of training. They mimic a movie.”I make them watch “Rocky IV” and we recreate training scenes from when they are in Siberia and they have to carry logs and rocks and wrestle peasants and stuff,” Thum, a first-year coach said with a grin. To ski cross country, the team certainly needs as much fitness as it can get. Between trips to the Aspen golf course, where they actually cross country ski, the team stays busy conditioning. Half the team already has experience in the Nordic field. For the other half, they just strapped on skis for the first time last week.The Nordic squad will compete in six or seven events this year, according to Thum, with the first taking place this weekend in Vail. That race will be run by the Colorado High School Activities Association, while some of the events will be through United States Ski Association.

The popularity of telemark skiing continues to grow and there is no need to look further than the CRMS tele team to see it. It is CRMS’ largest winter squad, with almost 20 skiers.Some are seasoned veterans, while others are just catching on to the sport.”We have a total range,” said Detering. “Some kids have been tele skiing for years, we have six that just started this year. It’s a good mixture.”The team will have its first competition in January – a slopestyle event at Snowmass.CRMS senior Jake Sakson, who won the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Junior Division Championship last year, returns to the squad and is expected to have another standout season.”He is definitely one of our better skiers if not the best,” Detering said. “He is a good team leader for all the kids that are below his level and just starting.”

Of the 10 CRMS students out for the alpine ski team this year, six are returners to the squad from last year. Three of those are expected to lead the team this season, with the two most experienced skiers being senior Fred Norquist and junior Sydney Schachter.”They are the two that have been doing this forever,” said assistant alpine coach Tory Amorello.Then there is senior David Yanez, who moved to CRMS from Miami and is starting his second season with the squad.”He saw snow his first time as a sophomore and is just killing it. It is unbelievable,” Amorello said. “He is a senior this year and he is skiing USSA. He is just a total athlete.”While the three figure to lead the team, all 10 members are undergoing serious dryland training, which included a set of conditioning and strengthening workouts with yoga balls on the CRMS tennis courts last week. They also went to Beaver Creek to watch the recent Birds of Prey World Cup events.It was good for the team to see the slalom and giant slalom events – the two disciplines it will compete in through its six scheduled CHSAA races throughout Colorado this winter. The first of those competitions will take place Friday at Copper Mountain.

The Off-Piste team at CRMS is more off-the-beaten-path. The 12 skiers and four snowboarders that make up the two Off-Piste teams explore the backcountry, and lesser-skied areas like the Highland Bowls or Hanging Valley Glades.The team, which includes athletes from the alpine and telemark squads, is a little less competitive than the other teams and lets the students see a lot of untouched terrain.”We have lots of kids that want to be on a ski team, but want it to be a little less intense,” said Darryl Fuller, the Off-Piste skiing coach.The team, which also is educated in avalanche safety, will go to two events this year including COSMIC – the Colorado Ski Mountaineering Cup – at Sunlight Mountain Resort on Jan. 20 and 24 Hours of Sunlight Feb. 23-24.

Though a handful of seniors graduated from last year’s team, the CRMS snowboarding squad has 14 riders out this year, including returner Tak Sasaki. The team goes to Snowmass to ride, but also spends time on its own rail park that it built close to CRMS. They have also finished three weeks of dryland training that included running, core strengthening, flexibility and yoga. Not only do the workouts help the team get in shape for the season, it also helps guard against injuries.”We just want to keep everybody healthy and we have a great group,” said head coach Michael Hayes. “The attitude is really positive on the team, they are all buying into the way that we do it.”

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