CXC Spotlight: Who’s Got “Next”?

Another season of valuable opportunities for cross-country ski racers is ready to kick off with the annual Regional Elite Group (REG) Camps slated to begin at venues across the nation, aimed at talented junior development athletes, including one in our own backyard from July 5-11th in Cable, WI.

This past February, three Central REG camp alumni represented the U.S. Ski Team in Falun, Sweden for the FIS Nordic World Championships (Jessie Diggins, Ben Saxton and Kyle Bratrud) and Jessie Diggins got a silver medal! So, that now begs the question for all of the 2015 Central REG camp: “Who’s Got Next?” 

We talked with U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Development Coach Bryan Fish recently to garner his insight on the program.

U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Development Coach Bryan Fish

U.S. Cross Country Ski Team Development Coach Bryan Fish.  Photo by: Skinny Ski

“Each region (East, Central, West and Alaska) hosts a regional elite group camp. The REG camps are lead and staffed with club coaches from throughout their respective region and we support their efforts with USST coaching staff and presentations. Matt Whitcomb will be supporting the East. Jason Cork and I will together support the Western REG and I will be traveling to the Central and Alaska,” said Fish.

We asked Fish about the overall goals of the REG Camps.”The goal of these camps are to bring together our best athletes and coaches from throughout the regions. These collaborative camps provide a motivating environment for the athletes to positively push and improve together. Camps like REG are where we have witnessed our greatest athletic gains. Success stems from and by this collaboration. Regional Elite Group camps are one stage of the overall Cross Country Development Program,” he noted.

Athletes at REG conduct time trials and testing to qualify for the National Elite Group camp, which will be held in September in Lake Placid, NY in conjunction with the U.S. Ski Team September dryland camp. These athletes will live and train alongside the national team at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid. The National Training Group (NTG) is a more comprehensive program that allows athletes multiple opportunities to join US Ski Team camps. NTG qualifications are based on race results posted in the 2014-15 competition season.

Roller Ski Time Trial At County Rd. OO

Roller Ski Time Trial At County Rd. OO. Photo by: Skinny Ski 

Fish said that this year they’ll be adding another element to the program.

“We have added an uphill double pole time trail to the REG’s this year, for this is an area we have witnessed we can place more attention in for improve performance in the developmental ranks. Thanks to Finn Sisu for supplying us with 10 pair of matched Marwe classic rollerskis to allow for fair assessments. The goal in summer is to train consistently, efficiently and relatively aggressively. Not aggressive in terms of high intensity all the time, but aggressively in the sense of higher volumes and enhanced physical and technical efficiency. Their normal ski training should be demonstrated in these time trials and tests we conduct at REG’s. We test skate speed agility, uphill running, general strength and now uphill double pole. All these aspects together, directly improve the overall performance of an athlete when they are focused on being competent at all of them and they are using them as long term tools for winter peak performance.”

Strength Test At 2014 Central REG Camp

Strength Test At 2014 Central REG Camp. Photo by: Skinny Ski

Speaking about the Central REG specifically, Fish had these comments to add;

“The Central REG camp has grown in size once again, however that is due to the region’s rise in performance. Under the leadership of clubs and collaboration with CXC, there are more junior athletes within the region that have made the commitment to train consistently year around, and therefore more have achieved the objective REG selection criteria.”

When asked about the location of Central REG Camp, Cable, WI, Bryan extolled the characteristics we have come to love about the Mid-West;

“The locations of these camps are evaluated to ensure high quality training for the athletes. There are wonderful options for rollerskiing in northern Wisconsin due to the excellent pavement and numerous quiet rolling roads.  It is often pointed out the lack of vertical topography, however we have to recognize that few climbs are longer than 8-10 minutes even on World Cup.  The rolling terrain in the upper Midwest is optimal for cross country ski training.  There is nothing like jumping into the cool lake water after a training session. The fact that there is a lake directly at the hotel makes for a great recovery between sessions and allows the training to remain high.”

This is a very special program that is at the vanguard of junior development and not to be missed.

  •      June 20-27               Western REG                                   Park City, UT
  •      July 24-31               National U16 Camp                           Burlington, VT
  •      September 13-21    National Elite Group                          Lake Placid, NY

by Peter Graves, Winter Olympic Games Announcer and CXC Writer

Editor’s note:  Peter Graves has spent over 40 years in Nordic skiing, first as a racer, then as a USST coach and a USSA Administrator. He has worked in public relations and broadcasting promoting the sport, and has announced at eight Olympic Games. He is a long time voice of the Birkie and handles creative writing projects for CXC.

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