WMSC athletes attend preseason camp 

Skiers dealt with earthquakes during South American journey

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF WHISTLER MOUNTAIN SKI CLUB - chile success Whistler Mountain Ski Club FIS head coach Rob Boyd said athletes prepared for the season at a recent camp in Chile.
  • File photo courtesy of Whistler Mountain Ski Club
  • chile success Whistler Mountain Ski Club FIS head coach Rob Boyd said athletes prepared for the season at a recent camp in Chile.

After summer skiing up on the Horstman Glacier or in Oregon, members of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club (WMSC) travelled down to La Parva, Chile last month to prepare for the 2015-16 season.

FIS head coach Rob Boyd said over the course of their time in South America, athletes faced several of the situations they should expect over the season.

"There was lots of good skiing. We had lots of new snow, had some really hard snow days and some really soft snow days," he said. "(There was) a little bit of everything. What's so great about La Parva is that you do get everything. It's more realistic for what we'll be racing on in the winter."

The club was in Chile for three weeks, and had 14 athletes at the height of its participation in the middle week. The athletes ranged in age from 15 to 18.

Boyd noted the athletes had a good base of training and those who went to Chile were looking to keep up the good work.

"We had 10-plus days of summer training on the glacier here at Whistler Blackcomb or Mount Hood," he said. "Guys have already gone through all the drills and exercises and now you're getting ready to get up to speed more. I want the guys to come down there ready to go, we're going to do as much volume as we can and for the most part, everyone was well prepared and took advantage of the training opportunities down there.

"We managed to cover the gamut from slalom to GS to super-G, even a few runs of downhill."

The resort saw a flurry of activity as several national teams were also there during the Whistlerites' stay, including the Austrian women, French women, Italian men, Slovenians, Hungarians, Polish and Russians.

"Those national teams tend to get first pick on time and locations, so they'd usually get the prime spots of the morning downhill sessions and we'd come in in the afternoon," he said.

Boyd lamented that a stomach bug ran rampant through the team while they were down there, hitting its peak during the best conditions for speed training.

Boyd explained not all skiers are created equal, but neither is their work ethic. He noted one athlete who made major strides because she was willing to put in the effort.

"Gabby Smith, she's a local girl, she said 'My parents paid a lot for me to come down here and I'm going to make the most out of every day,'" Boyd shared.

"She was up there earlier than the others. She was staying up longer afterwards and getting extra runs in and working on things. Her improvements were markedly above some of the others who did not take advantage of every day like that."

Among the more concerning moments for the club was an 8.3-magnitude earthquake that struck in the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 16. Boyd said he'd experienced other earthquakes, but this one lasted the longest out of any of them. The skiers were appreciative of how lucky they were not to be overly affected.

"It sunk in more the last couple days when we heard some of the stories of other people, more local people that were really shaken up," Boyd said.

"It was half-an-hour later that the aftershock came and was a little bit stronger that bumped it up to 8.3. There were definitely some bigger jolts in there."

Boyd said calls from concerned parents started coming quickly and WMSC brass worked to reassure everyone involved that all skiers were safe.

A smaller group will accompany Boyd to Europe for another camp in advance of the season.

In other WMSC news, the organization's AGM is slated for Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. at the club cabin.

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