We are all back home and back to our normal lives but last week in Mammoth was truly something special. We had a big crew this year, 51 kids 18 coaches 3 chefs and a whole lot of positive energy. Our youngest campers were 11 and our oldest was 20. Normally that kind of an age gap would be a big cause for concern but our staff, made up entirely of ex or current World Cup athletes and coaches, handled it masterfully. Our current US Ski Team athlete/coaches put on their race suits to train and give pace to the older group, while the younger kids practiced their jumping and gliding skills on a separate venue. Each group which included 6-10 kids had 3 coaches to ensure that needs were being met.
Training courses were set by Johno McBride and Chris Brigham, who both have experience setting at several World Cup venues. Johno challenged the older crew mightily with high speed turns and quick decision making over terrain features. Brigham, who now coaches U14’s at Park City kept things more under control for the younger crew to gain confidence over the jumps and to accrue more time in their tucks and gliding on the long skis.
When it came to the afternoon drylands sessions the kids again assembled into a seamless group with the older athletes helping the younger ones in games of soccer, ultimate frisbee, speed ball, kick ball and capture the flag. Coaches Steven Nyman, Wiley Maple, Daron Rahlves and Johno Mcbride did a fine job of running the kids through warm up stretches and core workouts. It is safe to say that by the time dinner rolled around most of the crew was ravenous.
After dinner and a meeting each night we had a presentation by a pair of our Olympian coaches. This is one of the most special and valuable times of the camp. We had Stacey Cook and Travis Ganong talk about their summer routines and how much time they devote to work vs. play. Wiley Maple and Larisa Yurkiw talked about owning your program and making things work even when the odds are stacked against you. Aj Kitt and Leanne Smith discussed the importance of goal setting with the kids and even encouraged some of the campers to share their goals in front of the whole group; that was a very special moment. On our last night, after a big BBQ in the park, Daron Rahlves and Steven Nyman talked to the kids about racing and what it means to really bring out your best self on race day. The kids left that talk fired up for our mock race on the last day of camp.
Unfortunately mother nature came calling on our last day and we were forced to cancel our mock race and opt for some free-skiing instead. Even that was a good lesson for future speed racers, many times no matter how well prepared you may be, you just have to bottle up your energy and save it for another day.
We all left camp knowing one another that much better and many of us are already planning the next American Downhiller adventure. Every single person who was there last week contributed in their own way. Thanks so much for being a part of it!