Comp Center ready to compete
It may have been a slow start to ski season, but Winter Park’s Competition Center athletes have been using the downtime to train. It may not be the same as time on the hill or on the Nordic trail, but dry-land training can give athletes a big advantage when ski season comes.
The Winter Park Comp Center has been busy all summer and especially the last few weeks as athletes have been training with specific fitness conditioning for each discipline of skiing or snowboarding. Comp Center Director Jeff Burrows said athletes from each activity have been training with their own objectives that differ between comp center programs.
The Nordic program, for example, has their own specific fitness program that includes big mountain hikes, working out in rec center, power lifting, roller skate training, and a lot of conditioning. The Nordic team was reintroduced to the Comp Center this year, and Burrows said they are very excited to have the team back. He pointed out that Grand County has so many world-class Nordic facilities that it makes sense for the Comp Center to have its own team. The Nordic team will not have any home races this year, but Burrows said there is a good chance they will next year.
The freestyle mogul team has its own unique training program as well with a primary focus on fitness. Many of the teams play soccer to train, which Burrows said is crucial to their success in the winter. Another great training exercise is inline skating, which can benefit skiers greatly in the off-season or a particularly warm fall like we have had.
The Comp Center also had their first training session in the Colorado sand dunes over the summer, which seconded as a bonding trip between teams. The athletes camped out in the dunes and ran drills in the sand. The alpine race team even set up gates in the dunes to run through and practice as though they were on snow.
In September, Comp Center athletes participated in the first annual Ute Trail Challenge, a timed running race from the base of the resort to the top of Sunspot. The race has an elevation gain of 1,500 vertical feet in just two miles, and tested athlete’s mental toughness, perseverance, and sportsmanship.
Burrows said the teams have been able to ski periodically prior to the opening of Winter Park Resort. They have traveled to Loveland and Arapahoe Basin to take advantage of their early openings. Most resorts have terrain parks in their early season opening, and this allowed the park and pipe athletes to get a head start on their skills.
The Comp Center usually consists of athletes from Grand County and the Front Range. Grand County locals usually make up about a quarter of the athletes. Burrows said the Comp Center had about 900 athletes last year, and they are expecting around the same number this year. He said the number of locals tends to grow each year as more families move to Grand County full time. The Comp Center has about 150 coaches, and a program for almost every discipline of skiing except ski jumping.
“We are excited to get things going,” Burrows said. “It’s a great sense of community with the resort and all the towns. It’s so neat to be involved and there is a lot of encouragement at the local level. The community is well supported and we are proud of the kids that come here.”
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