"How A Strong U.S. Team Prepares"

Posted by Gus Schumacher on Mar 16th 2021

"How A Strong U.S. Team Prepares"

Honestly not too much to report from the last couple weeks, which is good! We (the U.S. World Champs team) spent last week in Davos, Switzerland doing some training and chilling, with goals to reset from the World Cup grind and refocus on the upcoming championships. It was beautiful, with tons of sun and snow, which was a welcome change from freezing Finland (location of U23s the week before). We arrived in Oberstdorf on Sunday, with the first race coming up tomorrow (today, if you’re reading this when it’s published on SkiPost!) Rolled up to hot sun and very little snow, which was worrying after seeing snowy pictures of the venue earlier in the winter. Getting to the venue cured some of the worries, because there’s a good amount of snow in the shade, but it’s still feeling the heat! Since it’s been uneventful recently, I think shining some light on how a strong U.S. team prepares for a big championship event would be kind of cool.

There are 17 athletes here, (8 women, 9 men) and with 4 athletes starting in each event, this means we have some people targeting one event, alongside people targeting more like 4-5 (of 6 total) events. There are lots of moving parts, and people all in slightly different modes of preparation for their big events. An important aspect of this for an individual is to not lose sight of one’s own event. Continuing preparation exactly as YOU need it, no matter what’s going on around you is important, and the coaches and staff are working so hard to make this possible. This means lots of vans shuttling to and from the venue and COVID testing, as well as additional “special team” staff, including a nutritionist, PT, massage therapist, and doctor to tend to all the tiny needs, with the goal to allow coaches to focus fully on the races and logistics. This is awesome for us, because it means access to really good, healthy food and body care whenever we need it. There’s lots of hype at these events, even compared to big World Cups, so it’s really nice to have all the small things dialed, so we can do our best to block out distractions. The team is running like a machine, and we’re all ready to take on some hot racing!

For myself, individual preparation means chilling when I can, and just enjoying the experience these first few days, while honing in training every day with my coaches Matt Whitcomb and Jan Buron. I’ve been trying really hard to sync up intensity sessions with the other guys, but since we’re all focusing on different races, it’s a little hard to find ourselves doing similar things on the same day. I’ve been able to do a couple sessions recently with Simi, which have been super valuable. One big step forward for me this year has been spending so much time around our nation’s best skiers, and it feels good when I really take advantage of having them around. I’ve learned a lot just by being around them all year, and not necessarily things I could list. A lot of it is just being absorbed when I watch them ski and prepare. My other side of preparation is mental, and right now, 4 days out from racing, that means still doing homework and playing games with the boys, but also starting to allow nervous energy to creep in, and thinking about how I want these races to play out. Now is when I start to go through the courses in my head, visualizing how I want to feel in certain places, and what moves can be made around each course. It’s all fun stuff, and it’s fun to remember this is exactly what I train for, and now is the time to sharpen all of that into a point. Time to come into these biggest races of my life so far with some energy and hype! Let’s go!!!!!

P.S. all the events will be streamed on Peacock, so get on that!

PC Matt Whitcomb