We arrived in Portillo to find exceptional conditions…we are fortunate, as it could have very well have just as easily gone the other way. But much to our relief the stories of copious snow and quiet slopes proved true. Other than the 8 athletes of the BC Ski Team, the US has a small contingent of its male WC Speed athletes here (5). As it is late spring here at the resort, the slopes have been virtually empty of tourists. This is partially due to the poor economy of Argentina, where Portillo draws a majority of its' clients.

Since we have been here the temperature has ranged from minus seven to minus three in the morning, resulting in a bulletproof surface on which to train. One side of the area remains in the shadow of the peaks for most the day, which allows for afternoon sessions if one wanted. Since we are at 9,300 ft at the main area, and training at around 10,100 (dropping down to 8,000 ft!) we have found that the morning session from 7:15 – noon has been more than plenty. The altitude and the heat of the sun here quickly depletes the energy of the athletes.

We have just completed our first four-day block of training. We started with one day of GS tech skiing on Slalom skis, moving to GS tech / drill courses on GS skis the following day. Yesterday and today we run a session of full length GS, followed by a jumping session on the downhill course. We utilized the bumps (2) built for the US Ski Teach are substantial, and offer a variety of moves needed to attain the desired result (that is landing on the feet rather than the head!).

In GS we have continued a focus of patience/ position and pressuring within a proper turn shape. We are using brushes (set approx 1.5 feet directly off turning gate) to ensure that the athletes allow room for the feet and body at the panel in order to keep the pressuring in the falline smooth and progressive. We are finding that the brushes work better than other line aids, as there is no interference in the ski if it is to hit the brush.

Next up is a four-day speed block. We will run SG (full length: 1:15) for two days followed by two days of Downhill training. During this block we will also work on Slalom after the speed training, the goals being to enhance balance, agility.

Best regards, NJ O'Neill.
Head Coach, BC Women's Ski Team