Advantages of Heading Down Under To Train In The North American Summer
When you think about training destinations for winter athletes, rarely does Australia come to mind. People mostly picture destinations across Europe, Canada, and the US. But as an athlete based in the US, where do you go in the summer months for training? There are plenty of options as far as glacier training goes, with Mt. Hood, Oregon and Whistler, BC being such easy choices for many. However, some venture farther – finding a home base in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer months.
The alpine skiers tend to head down to New Zealand, where the mountains are steeper and also typically feature more vertical than the mountains in Australia. In addition to this, the temps are usually colder – making for better racing conditions. The freestyle skiers tend to split up between New Zealand and Australia. Both destinations have premier terrain park setups, so it’s really a matter of preference. However, Cardrona Alpine Resort in NZ is home to the first World Cup events of the season for both park and pipe. This plays a major influence in drawing park/pipe athletes down there during the months of August and September.
For those park/pipe athletes that aren’t on the World Cup level yet, Australia is more than sufficient for them. Perisher Ski Resort boasts over 3000 acres of skiable terrain, with one of the best terrain park set-ups in Australia. With access to a world-class park and pipe set-up, Perisher draws in a lot of youth/lower level competitive athletes. Perisher, along with Thredbo is considered to be the premier ski areas in Australia and this is where you find most athletes training during the North American Summer.
As a mogul skier on the US Development Team, I’ve spent my last couple of summers down under for training. Perisher features one of the best set-ups for mogul skiers looking to train during their summers, and athletes from around the world make their way down every year. Each summer, the mogul course at Perisher brings in athletes from the US, Canada, France, Switzerland, China, South Korea, Japan and more I might be forgetting. It’s basically just one big melting pot, all brought together by the Australian National Team. The national team does a great job of setting up a training venue and then welcoming teams from around the world to use it.
Last year, Australia saw one of its best winters in years, with a record number of snowfall. This snowfall, in combination with the impending Olympic year, brought teams from across the world into Perisher to ski the mogul course called ‘Toppa’s Dream.’ Having been there the last couple of years, I can’t disagree with the name – as the course really is a dream for mogul skiers.
Looking at summer training options for a mogul skier based in North America, the easy choice is usually Mt. Hood, Oregon or Whistler, BC. These places hold true for park/pipe and alpine skiers as well. However, when comparing these destinations to Australia, there are many things to look at. First off, people look at summer training in Australia and quickly dismiss it due to the price and amount of travel. Still, you have to consider the benefits of training in Australia rather than on a glacier.
When you head down there around late July or early August, Australia is right in the middle of their winter season. Meaning you get better snow and more realistic training conditions. This makes an August training camp feel more like the start of next season rather than a summer camp. For elite athletes, this is almost necessary – since you can already begin working toward upcoming events. In addition to this, Australia and New Zealand put on their own events in August/September - which really makes an August training camp feel like the start of next season.
I already mentioned the World Cups that Cardrona Alpine Resort in NZ puts on during their winter season, but Australia holds some prestigious events during this time as well. For a mogul skier, the Continental Cup takes place at the end of August and goes into the first week of September. This tour features three different competitions, with two events in Perisher (located in New South Wales), and one event in Mt. Buller (located in Victoria). The overall winner of this tour gets a spot on World Cup Tour for the upcoming season – making this a very coveted tour. The competitiveness of this tour is a major factor in drawing people from around the world to Australia for summer training. With the chance to compete against the worlds best, there is no other place to be as an elite mogul skier.
Come August, you’ll find me down under – reaping the benefits of summer training in the Southern Hemisphere. It won't just be the US Ski Team down there though, as the Australian National Team will play host to many nations, all shooting for a spot in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Come to find me or come to Find Your Limit, regardless Australia is the place to be for elite athletes looking for summer training.
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