A Student’s Take on Alpine Race Training in Austria

November 3, 2016

An Alpine Race Training Trip for the Ages

On Wednesday, October 12, the alpine team and coaching staff traveled to the Stubai Glacier in Austria for a two-week pre-season alpine race training camp.

Alpine Race Training

Day 1 team photo at Stubaier Gletscher

We chose Stubai because the glacier offers a firm, quality surface for early season training unlike anything we can find in the U.S. at this time of year. Access to training spaces of varying degrees of difficulty make it a perfect place for our athletes to get used to being back on snow and begin to ramp up their gate training. Surface lifts provide quick turn-arounds during slalom and giant slalom training sessions, so our athletes complete a lot of runs in a short period of time.

The bottom line is this: the amount of time on snow before races begin is directly correlated to early season results; and we expect to see proof of this after witnessing the strides made by the athletes at this camp.

Our training also overlapped with the Sölden World Cup and the kids were able to watch the men’s race live on their off day–a rare experience for ski racers growing up in the U.S..

That’s the trip from a coaches perspective, but keep reading to get the inside scoop through the eyes of a competitive alpine racer. Olivia Erwich ’18 is a Gould 11th grader and veteran of the Gould Winter Term Program.

From Olivia ’18:

Alpine Race Training

Coach Cathy Fisher (left) and Olivia Erwich ’18 (right) stoked on their way to train.

As I opened my eyes, weighted by the lack of sleep, I found myself surrounded by the majesty of mountains. We are in Austria. Everyday is an adventure. Filled with skiing, soup, study hall, sauna and a grand dinner. Each morning started off with a deluxe breakfast, and honestly there is no better way to start the day. We would load up the gondolas and ski. Double sessions split by lunch at the mountain meant that training was maximized.

After skiing under blue bird skies and training in courses we would download and head back to the hotel for “soup hour,” accompanied by coffee, and an assortment of bread and strudel. A great way to relax after working hard. Then we would move on to homework; two hours of studying each day of the camp was enough to get the work done.

After study hall, we would either go to the sauna or hangout as a group, always cracking a few jokes or sharing some moments of relaxation. However, we had two days that did not follow the schedule stated above. The day we went to Innsbruck and the day we went to Sölden.

Innsbruck was fun, but Sölden was an experience unlike any before. As we arrived on the scene there was an instant realization that everyone attending this race:

1. Was dedicated and connected to this sport,

2. Had reached the highest level of excitement and was not afraid to show it, and

3. Knew how to party like there was no tomorrow.

After watching some of the biggest names in ski racing carve down the steepest giant slalom trail (that I’ve ever seen) our group headed for lunch. The lines took long but it was worth it for the food: good Wiener Schnitzel and fries with Ketchup/mayo. Lunch chat was filled with awe of watching world the cup skiers take on Sölden.

Afterwards with time for the racers to have lunch, coaches to reset for second run and for racers to inspect, the dance was calling our names. We were thrown into the group of thousands of people on the dance floor. We were outside on snow, with a DJ surrounded by people that loved ski racing and had a bit of party in them. The only thing that was on everyone’s’ minds was having fun. Austria was a blast and there are no words that can describe the thrill that filled all of us that went.

Learn more about the competitive Alpine Program

Click on the image below to see more moments from Austria.

Claire Kershko
Claire is a Girls' Alpine and Girls' Soccer coach at Gould. She skied competitively at Burke Mountain Academy and Bates College, graduating in 2014. She grew up in Upstate New York, and enjoys spending time at her family's house on Lake George, and mountain biking.

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