Around ze 'horn
Team America Alpine athletes typically spend several weeks based in Zermatt for early summer training.
A European glacier summer session is a life goal for many ski racers, and a common destination for elite level athletes, so we checked in with Alex and Garret to share their experiences.
Where exactly are you and how do you get there?
We are in Zermatt, Switzerland. We arrive in Munich, Germany, got boots made in Altenmarkt, Austria, and then drove to Zurich, Switzerland before taking the train from there to Zermatt.
Who else are you training with?
Our group consists of our core Team America athletes (Alex and Garret) plus Brian McLaughlin, a TA alum. In addition, we are training in with the Canadian World Cup Tech guys occasionally.
Can you run us through a typical day?
A typical day here starts with waking up at 5:30, making some breakfast, and then getting in the tram line before the 6:30 opening. You need to show up early because there’s about 150-200 people in line, and the trams only fit around 50 people, so you don’t want to be late. It takes roughly an hour to get up to the top of the Klein Matterhorn glacier, 12,000 feet above sea level. We take our training runs up there before packing up and heading back down all over again. We make a pit stop at a local restaurant, the Furi, every day for lunch. The Rosti Furi is to die for. After we get home, it’s a well deserved nap before dryland training in the afternoon, PT treatments after that, and then finally dinner. Get home, relax for a little, then go to sleep and get ready to do it all over again.
What is your training focus this trip?
My focus for the trip is to learn my new boot and ski setup, as well as focusing on getting more acceleration out of the top of the turn by dropping my outside shoulder.
Are you working on any gear adjustments?
Fischer came out with a brand new boot for this year so a lot of this camp is learning the new boot setup as well as feeling out new year’s models of skis.
For someone about to make their first Europe summer training trip, what thing(s) should they know?
If you’re coming over to Europe for the first time, the first thing to know is glacier skiing is very different from mountains in the US. You’re skiing at extremely high elevations, in complete sun exposure, so extra water and sunscreen are a must. Another life-hack is to bring a camping chair up on the glacier with you: you’ll be the envy of all the other skiers there when you can take a well deserved rest at the top of the lane. The other major difference between European summer training and the US is the lift lines: its an all out brutal warfare. You’ll have little eight year old Italian kids climbing over the top of your skis if you don’t establish your presence in line, and there’s no lifties to enforce the law. It’s the wild west out there.
Is the vibe around racing different over there, how do you know, what is that feeling?
The vibe around racing is a little different in Europe for sure, there’s just a much broader knowledge and recognition of ski racing. When I got boot insoles made here, the employee working with me talked about how he has worked with multiple different world cup teams, from Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter to Switzerland’s own Ramon Zenhausern. It’s fun to be able to talk to most random people and they have some knowledge of the ski racing world.
Do you have structured dryland or is it more individualized?
We have a scheduled dryland session every day that our physio and assistant coach run together. We do everything from weight training, to soccer games, to core workouts, to hill sprints, whatever the day requires.
Thanks for checking in from the road!
You can follow Alex and Garrett on Team America's instagram page
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