There hasn’t been much that could be categorized as “normal” at the first summer on-snow camps for the U.S. men’s alpine team. Much work has gone down at new sites, notably a small family-run ski area called Ohau, which drew high praise from head coach Sasha Rearick for catering to every need of the team.
“Mike and Louise were terrific,” said Rearick, referring to Mike and Louise Neilson, the husband/wife owners of the Ohau Snow Fields and Lake Ohau Lodge.
Ohau is a unique ski area even for New Zealand. It is remote and it is the smallest commercial ski area in the country, according to Mike Neilson. “We have good snow. We lay in the south island MacKenzie Basin, a particularly dry area. Several years ago (2008) we made the decision to develop snowmaking, targeting – in our minds – race training groups. We didn’t chase teams in the first years but continued to develop so we would be suitable. Three years ago Sasha came by on a scouting trip and checked it out.”
You were sick the last time you raced on Birds of Prey and finished just off the podium in fourth. What is it about racing on home snow that brings out great performances? The best part about racing in the U.S. is being in a comfortable environment. The crowd there is always incredible too and that helps get you amped up to go fast.
Describe the Birds of Prey track as it relates to some of the other classic venues? We haven't raced slalom at BOP besides a makeup race a few years ago so it's hard to compare it to other venues. It's probably most similar to Zagreb in difficulty. But it's not very hard after the first few gates, which means you have to attack the whole way.
It seems ironic that a ski racer who won 18 slalom and giant slalom World Cups in her career would reach a penultimate gold medal by virtue of a single downhill finish. That was the story of Tamara McKinney’s brilliant World Championship title in 1989 at Vail.
Throughout the ‘80s, McKinney stood out as one of ski racing’s biggest stars. After a podium finish in her very first World Cup in 1978 at the age of 17, she went on to win 18 World Cups – all slalom and giant slalom – and claimed three crystal globes. Her historic overall title in 1983 was the first for an American woman.
A talented musician as well as a ski racer, Laurenne Ross is a four-discipline threat both on and off the snow with incredible talent on violin, piano, guitar and vocals. After a slower than normal start to the 2014 season, Ross picked things up in the run up to the Olympics and then posted a season-best 11th in the Sochi downhill. With a World Cup podium under her belt and Olympic experience, Ross is looking to continue her success in 2015 with the highlight being the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships at Vail/Beaver Creek.
Name: Laurenne Ross
Sport: Alpine skiing
How/when did you decide you wanted to compete: Around age six, when I raced down my first course
Biggest accomplishment in your career so far: 2nd place at the World Cup Downhill in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Stacey Cook Helps Promote Olympic Values at 54th IOA in Greece
Winning is important, but respect for diversity is the true meaning of the Olympic Games.
That was the message at the 54th International Session of the International Olympic Academy (IOA) for Young Participants. In June, two hundred participants from 96 countries congregated in Ancient Olympia, Greece; among them was the U.S. Ski Team’s Stacey Cook.
The speed team veteran “took a chance,” not really knowing much about the program, hoping to take advantage of a summertime trip to Greece. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of her life, she said.
When our youth athletes strive to achieve their personal best, victory is won on and off the hill. Encouraging our kids to set individual goals and focus on maximum personal effort benefits both the player and the team – in a variety of ways.
Athletes who come to realize that personal development can be even more rewarding than a win are mastery-focused athletes who build the confidence and initiative needed to succeed – in sports and in life.