Pridy & Blog 2.0
Picture this. Six young athletes arrive in the southern hemisphere; gear piled high on tiny luggage carts. The air outside the doors of SCL is fresher than that on the plane, but they are still met with the warm smogginess that is Santiago’s temperate climate. Obviously they shake it off and push on because what’s a little city fog compared to the BC wildfire smoke they have been toughening their lungs up with for the last couple weeks. Besides, a few more hours in a little bus packed to the roof with their weaponry and it will be nothing but fresh mountain air and views from 10,000 feet. So they squeeze on board and start the ascent.
At this point I can confidently assume that they are fed up with the grind of off snow training and more than ready to get back to working on their craft. As they arrive with Jazz, Nick and I greet them happily. We are just as excited to get the new season underway. Pumped or not, the travel from BC is in excess of 10,000 kilometers … as the crow flies. If you are having trouble picturing the distance go and walk a KM, pause, and then do that 9,999 more times (not recommended, thank goodness for planes). Anyways, this always takes a toll in one way or another, so the crew has arrived, but in varying levels of haggardness.
Gear gets unloaded, tuning rooms are dialed in, spinning and stretching is completed. The OCD inclined unpack completely to settle into their rooms while others weigh the fact that before long we will be onto a new place and a new room. Dinner that first night has scattered conversations and constant corrections as they replace “thank you” with “Gracias”. The sun goes down on our 1970’s style sunken living room apartment. I’m not sure which of the crew were still up to take in the sunset but as Instagram can confirm, this place has never been shy with its reds and oranges.
Ready… Set… Freeski? Yep! Day one is dominated by the saying “we are knocking the rust off”. It’s a quick build from all out of whack and “I don’t know, it just feels weird” to thank goodness our kids might not have totally forgotten how to ski. By the afternoon everyone is looking a lot more like themselves and ready to get going on that whole red, blue, red, blue thing.
Conditions are a classic melt freeze. Snow that feels slick and chattery day one in gates, but you’d call perfect and grippy down the road. At this point focuses are being reaffirmed; rhythm and timing settling back in, and a few arcs are getting parked. It’s good, it’s sunny, it’s nice, and it’s melting… Like fast, fast enough you can watch rocks grow. So what do you do when life gives you lemons? Say fuck the lemons and bail. This particular bail is made possible by Nick and his extreme organizationality (I have spell check, I know that’s not a word). Plan B quickly becomes plan A and here we go again.
Welcome to Nevados de Chillan! Well almost welcome to Nevados de Chillan. Before arriving at our trip’s secondary training venue the bus driver decided he would show the team a magic trick. What he did was pretty incredible actually. This guy, he shuts the doors and waits until we are all seated. Then what he does is starts the bus and turns a six hour trip into a ten hour one…
Anyway, here we are, arrived in Nevado de Chillan. Looking up at snow covered peaks and charming old school lifts, all built on the side of a giant active volcano. Our first day of training here picks up right where we left off, and on a very similar surface only now the team is looking comfortable and piecing together more and mores solid runs. Due to the aforementioned thin conditions in El Colo our arrival now preceded that of our hotel companions; The Attacking Vikings. Not only is it a great thing to be around the best skiers on the planet (on both the men’s and women’s side) But it also sometimes means that when you are here first your team gets private training on the speed track that has been built for them.
Accessible only by Cat and Snowmobile the speed track has been carved into a massive snowfield at the foot of the volcano. It covers enough distance to set full length Super-G and an admirable length summer DH course. The first speed session of any new season and on any new venue is always accompanied by some amount of nervousness. It also brings up the level of sharpness and focus. Eventually, and after many miles, the pairing of these things brings on an atmosphere for progression that is found largely in “action sports”. You don’t flirt with disaster; you beat it back with a willingness to commit to something you think is possible. A limit pushed becomes the basis for a new norm. Now we are a few runs in, nervous expressions are being replaced with grins and the day is starting to flow nicely. Then the mountain starts to growl a little… a low rumble just loud enough to make sure we remember we are training on a volcano. Everyone gets the call to ski down to the bottom of the track. From there we all get to take in the show and watch the peak sneeze a plume of ash a thousand feet high. Two important things to note here, the first is that the wind was blowing the ash away from the track so we will still have fast speed skis come race season (I know, obviously that was your number one concern as well). Second, it really seemed to me that the crew had more concerns about skiing speed than they did about the mountain exploding a little…
I’m going to give the people here the benefit of the doubt and say they definitely used some kind of science to let us know it was good to train again. So that’s what we did, finished the day strong and prepared for the next. And the next was a gooder, mint conditions and a guest appearance by Norway's double Olympic medalist RagMo (Ragnhild Mowinckel).
(l to r) Frances MacDonald, Ella Renzoni, RagMo and Nicole Mah
The storm of the century may be a slight exaggeration, but I’m going to call it whatever I want. All the weather came in all at once and blanketed the resort in a mid winter shade of white. Of course it also made sure to have a clean canvas by washing everything clean with a few buckets of rain first. Hopefully you are up to date… or is it back to date with your pop culture references because our team can get wet and you can feed them after midnight and we will still give it a good college try to train. Besides, wet snow is dense snow and we have a waterski champion in our midst this camp to boot (Marcus!).
The last push from South American winter seems to be coming to an end and our final block here should have a nice winter conditions feel to it. It’s time to leave you for now but I’ll part ways with a few fun facts from our trip.
- When you tell your team not to drink pop at dinner, Jansrud will show up and immediately walk past them drinking a huge glass of coke…
- It’s best not to try and catch a dodge ball with your face.
- You should mispronounce the names of all the players on your fantasy football team.
Training group athletes in Chile with Head Coach Nick Cooper and Coaches Ryan Jazic and Morgan Pridy:
Kyle Alexander, Whistler Mountain Ski Club - 1999
Myles Kowalczyk, Whistler Mountain Ski Club - 2000
Frances MacDonald, Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club - 1999
Nicole Mah, Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club - 1999
Ella Renzoni, Whistler Mountain Ski Club - 2000
Marcus Athans, Apex Ski Club/Okanagan Ski Team - 2000