From Sept. 27 to Oct. 11, Canada’s Rocky Mountain Racers headed to Park City, Utah, for their annual fall training camp. The team, which is made up of twenty biathletes and cross-country skiers from across the country, took advantage of the region’s high altitude while putting in big volume hours and intensity.
Coaches John Jaques and Luke McGurk led RMR athletes during two grueling weeks of training with 3-5 hour volume days up Mirror Lake Pass, Wolf Pass, Emigration Pass, and Big Cottonwood Pass. For intensity sessions, the team went to Soldier Hollow, where the former Olympic venue’s paved rollerski track and biathlon range provided an opportunity for the biathletes and the cross-country skiers to train together.
For many RMR athletes, this was their first time coming to Park City.
“Skiing at Soldier Hollow was one of my favourite parts of the trip,” said Donny Boake, 15-year old RMR skier from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. “The rollerski track there has steep climbs and technical descents, so it was a great place to practice attacking the climbs and taking the descents aggressively.”
For returning athlete Ember Large, the camp provided a great opportunity to connect and work as a team.
“It was great to have the entire team together for two weeks, both for intensity and long easy days,” she explained. “Having everyone there made for a really fun atmosphere, and we were able to learn a lot from each other.”
This year, the team added something new to their training camp: agility practice. Armed with empty parking lots, sharp corners, and sidewalk curbs for the athletes to jump off of, RMR coaches prepared obstacle courses for the athletes to help improve their confidence on rollerskis. The sessions focused on honing the athletes’ ability to ski in a pack, corner, navigate obstacles, jump, and rollerski.
According to Coach McGurk, the agility sessions allowed athletes to “become more comfortable on their skis and give them the confidence to make decisions quickly when faced with a difficult situation.”
“The camp at Soldier Hollow is always an excellent starting point for the year as it offers a wide variety of terrain that we can use to test our athletes as well as most of our athletes will be in attendance,” he added.
The camp finished off with a sprint time trial at Soldier Hollow, where RMR athletes were joined by Wasatch Nordic Ski Academy for the day. Athletes completed a qualifier, three heats, and another qualifier to finish off the day. Heats were organized according to qualifying time, with similar speed athletes placed in the same heats to make for optimal competitiveness.
“It was a great experience to be able to race with some other girls that we don’t get to see in Canada,” she said. “It was a tough course with lots of hard uphills and downhills that really helped improve my skiing.”
Now done their last camp of the season, RMR athletes have headed back to Canada for some final training on Canmore’s Frozen Thunder before the season kicks off at the end of November.
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