Park City testing and training

14.Jun.2013 by Ida Sargent

After the first training camp  of the year in Bend, Oregon almost the entire US ski team flew to Park City for a testing camp with an additional training camp afterward.  Everyone chose how long they wanted to stay in Park City with some opting for a long altitude camp and others choosing a shorter block.  Having grown up at low altitude, I have always done the majority of my summer training at sea level and decided to stick to a similar plan this year and only spent a week in Park City.  That time flew by and I easily could have stayed much longer.

When we arrived in Park City we had an easy weekend training to recover from the training in Bend.  After some rainy weather in Bend, the sunshine felt amazing and everyone loved the big boost of Vitamin D.  There were some interesting “tan” lines when we showed up at the USSA Center of Excellence for testing on Monday morning.

Jessie, Sadie, Holly, and I sporting some bright Rudy Project colors on a rollerski (Holly Brooks photo)

We test twice a year in Park City and it involves two very busy days.  I was pretty overwhelmed the first time that I did it but luckily it has begun to feel more normal.  The tests include blood tests, physicals, functional movement screening to monitor mobility and strength, body compostion, hemoglobin mass, and a classic VO2max and a double pole max test on the rollerski treadmill.

For the VO2Max tests, the treadmill stays at a constant speed but each minute the grade is increased.  The test starts out super easy but then quickly becomes steeper and harder until you’re barely hanging on.  For me there is always a yo-yo effect as I slide back on the treadmill and then claw my way back toward the front and then slide back once again.  Eventually the treadmill always wins and spits you off the back.  Luckily you’re wearing a harness and get a nice little swing before landing in a crumpled ball on the stopped treadmill.  The whole fun experience takes about 11 minutes.


Double pole max test (Matt Whitcomb/USSA photo)

Here’s a clip of the end of my treadmill session from Kikkan


I also had the chance to work closely with Michael Naprelasky, a USST strength coach.  He taught Sophie Caldwell and I how to power clean and I’m looking forward to adding some Olympic lifting into my strength plan.  It was really nice to have a buddy to share the laughs and terror as we tried to learn proper technique with the heavy weights and lifts.

A smile or a pain grimace? (Sadie B photo)

Every time I’m in Park City I’m very impressed with the number of resources available to USST athletes.  Everything you need for hard training and fast recovery is at your disposal.  My Achilles tendon flared up when I arrived in Park City and I was able to immediately start working with one of the USST physical therapists and catch the problem before it became a big deal.  A huge thanks to Adam Perreault for all his work which included some very painful and even bruising calf and tendon massages necessary to break up the inflammation and muscle tightness.  The COE is actually a great place to be injured and I took advantage of some new modes of training while I was there including running on the Alter-G, a reduced gravity treadmill designed to lower the impact on your muscles and joints.  You wear neoprene shorts which zip into a bubble enclosing the treadmill.  The bubble inflates and lifts you up by your shorts so you have a semi wedgie the entire time which isn’t the most comfortable.  But once you get used to that, it’s kind of a fun experience because it is easy to run fast!  Since I was running at 50% bodyweight, I could casually maintain a 6 minute per mile pace and played around with turning up the speed to really get my legs spinning.

With the Achilles issue, I had to take some time off from running and rollerskiing and create more variety in my training.  It was the perfect opportunity to get out on a mountain bike and explore more of Park City’s extensive trail system.  Tom Collier, a friend from college, was an awesome guide and even took off time from work to ride with me.  Or maybe I should say he changed his office location because sometimes he would ride ahead of me on the descents and check email on his phone while I caught up.


Riding the Flying Dog trail (Tom Collier photo)

Park City actually looks pretty green at this time of the year and there were a few places that reminded me of home! (Tom Collier photo)

And while it may seem like we were only training, we also had plenty of time to hang out and the weather was perfect for relaxing outside by the pool or on the deck.  We went to a Salt Lake City Bee’s game, the triple A baseball team in SLC and gave everything we had cheering for the home team.  They gave up 12 runs in the 7th inning though so I can’t say we were too successful.  Throughout the week we cooked delicious dinners a team including a birthday dinner for Matt Whitcomb’s 35th birthday where Sophie and Jessie Diggins made sausage risotto and chocolate cupcakes inside a chocolate chip cookie shell.  We also had a delicious pizza dinner at the home of Toni Adams and her family where Noah Hoffman lives.


Lots of leftover pizza, bread, and cinnamon rolls! (Holly B photo)

BBQ chicken, salad, and sweet potato fries which Noah and I made while babysitting together one evening (Noah Hoffman photo)


I’m back in Craftsbury now where the weather has not been quite as sunny yet but after a week of sleeping at 8300′ and training at around 7000′, sea level oxygen sure feels like quite a treat!