ASXT Coach Journal: Shayne Spence
I have the honours of kicking off this year’s round of athlete/coach journals! The last 4 weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind for the teams, and I have the pleasure of leading the Alberta Ski Cross Team this year.
The Alberta Ski Cross Team (ASXT) has just returned from 4 weeks overseas training in Stelvio Italy, Hintertux Austria, and Saas-Fee Switzerland, and it was a great opportunity to get back on snow, refresh the fundamentals, work into some Alpine GS and finally get onto the ski cross track at Saas-Fee with National Teams. We are all looking forward to our next block on snow, and the preparation towards competition again after a year off. The team has made serious gains in the gym over the summer, and this translated to a quick progression on snow. There is also an increased understanding with the team and the correlation between the type of lifting that we are doing with CSI and how those movements benefit their skiing.
The ASXT is a new group for me to work with, and I am very excited about the progress we have made, the team environment we are creating and the plans we are discussing regarding competition, additional training opportunities, and TRAVEL now that we are able to again.
The memory of the trip that sticks with me the best, was our days at Saas-Fee when we got up to the top of the Ski Cross track. The weather was always blue bird, the track was in amazing shape, and just to feel the buzz, excitement and energy from everyone there (The Swiss, Canadian, French, Australian, Swedish, Chinese, Great Britain, Italian, and Austrian National Ski Cross Teams) it just made the training environment so positive, and then when the heats started to run, WOW talk about a training environment!
The ASXT was fortunate to get the opportunity to start the camp with the alpine teams. Our focus was to get the fundamentals back as the team had been off snow since May, and we worked through technical free skiing drills and exercises to get the body and mind realigned after a long period of time off snow. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate as much as we would have liked at Stelvio, but we made the best of it, then off to Hintertux!
We were greeted on our first day at Hintertux with 40cm of fresh snow, and even though we were on GS skis we ripped up as much of it as we could! This brought many smiles and a few hoots and hollers and Europeans looking on with amazement. It was nice to let loose and have some fun. We then maximized our time at Hintertux with GS sessions, working into line, aerodynamics, changing where to pressure the ski in varying snow conditions, and to get comfortable at higher speeds.
The training venue at Saas-Fee is a playground, with the ability to utilize 2 different starts, multiple features, tracks and features that can be changed/utilized differently daily, and training partners that are the best in the world, it was an amazing opportunity for the team. The ability to watch, train on the same track and run heats with current Crystal Globe winners, Olympic medallists and World Cup medallists help to elevate the training environment, and help our athletes maximize their training sessions.
During our travel days, and off days we had the chance to also see a bit of Europe and got to wander around Innsbruck, Liechtenstein, Lucerne, and Munich. For the athletes, understanding the history in the areas they are in, is becoming part of their training as well. It will help with travel, movement from competition to competition and the ability to relax, refocus and recharge during long trips in the future.
The ASXT is very fortunate this year as Nakiska and ACA are working to build a world class Ski Cross track and training venue at Nakiska this year, which will become our primary training centre. This will allow for increased time on track, the balance of school and life, and being able to be in their own bed after training will help us maximize this opportunity. A big Thank you to Nakiska and ACA for putting this together to help to continue to develop Ski Cross in Alberta and Canada.
Thank you to the Team sponsors Nakiska, Sporting Life, Karbon and Silvertip for coming together and continuing to support Alpine sports in Alberta. Also, a big thank you to the parents and personal sponsors who help the athletes get back on snow in Europe and push forward with their training and preparations for competition. We look forward to showing how this training translates to results!
Finally, a big thank you to the office staff at Alberta Alpine (Pat, Alied, Josh and Sanne) for helping the teams get back to travelling for training and laying the groundwork for our return to competition.
See you on the slopes!