So, another adventure has concluded…and onto yet another one I go. I was sooo excited to return to Chile this year because I was heading to a ski area I had never been to before….Portillo. As it turns out, there was basically no snow there when we arrived (and much, much less upon departure). Actually, when I read the snow report prior to heading down south I saw that they had a “9 inch base” at the bottom of the mountain. Scary. But, thanks to our hardworking coaches, we somehow managed to pull the whole camp off with not one day of cancelled training. Every day after training the coaches were back out on the hill (often skipping lunch) to clean up our course: move floating rocks and even boulders out of the run, smooth out the bumpy, icy track, and push fresh snow over spots that were dwindling on the course. We trained Super G for the first few days on the speed track, but our pace was pretty aggressive as we were trying to take advantage of the snow that was melting FAST. Every day there was a noticeable amount of less snow than the day before.
So we pushed right into full length, full strip DH on day three. It was exciting, fun, and scary—not to mention that my ski popped off on the first run landing off of a jump and I tumbled into a pile of rocks….ugh. But no big deal, I was back at it (and a little more nervous than before) in another run. Though I had another crash that day that took me off the snow for a few days, the training turned out to be challenging and awesome…especially mentally. The track was icy and bumpy, which made it especially tough.
We trained a few days of GS and SL for our second sessions over on the Plateau side, which was literally the other of the two runs that we could train on…nonetheless free ski on. But despite the lack of free skiing (it looks like it would be amazing free skiing in Portillo if there was enough snow!), we had a wonderful training experience in Portillo.
(The Plateau side chair ride)
There were some other pretty neat things about Portillo other than the skiing—for example, teatime.
I have no idea how I would have survived without teatime…every day I found myself starving, come 4 pm. I want to say it was a combination of the altitude (we were sleeping above 10,000 feet…talk about a lack of oxygen!), the intense training sessions (we typically did a double session every day, totaling about 10 full length runs), our sleeping schedule (we were up before 6 every morning), and the fact that there was more than 7 hours between lunch and dinner. Anywho…let’s just say teatime saved me. The waiters in our hotel (where we ate all of our meals) were very friendly—sometimes I had to ask for a second meal because I was still hungry after the first—no questions or bad looks!
During our free time I was either passed out in my bunk bed, reading about the “wonders” of psychology, or practicing Spanish on Rosetta Stone (this was 3 weeks ago and I still feel as if I have gotten nowhere). I had the wonderful opportunity to room with Julia Ford, who I must say is one of the best roommates and friends in the world. She is so upbeat and positive all the time… If I ever feel down or bad about myself, I can just look at her smile…even when she is curled up in a ball on the floor with the Chilalien eating away at her stomach. What an awesome girl.
After Portillo we headed to Valle Nevado for 2 more days of Super G training and a bit more tech.
There was such a small amount of snow there as well…we had to carry all of our skis to the bottom of the course and ride the chair on old rental skis. Talk about sketchy! I wish I could have gotten some video of U.S. ski team athletes looking like a bunch of fools skiing on sheer ice on rental skis with the edges blown out! Scary! But the training in Valle Nevado also turned out to be pretty incredible.
We finished up the camp with a duel slalom (with panels!) on the last day, which was a really fun way to end our exhausting camp. We were all glad to get out of the mountains and the elevation, and I’m now looking forward to Colorado and the ski season—which are both creeping up on us so quickly! For now I am hanging out in Chile for a while with my friend Pancho, to explore the area and experience the culture a bit more. I will be doing lots of climbing and who knows what else!!! More to come when I return home…peace and love 🙂