Members of the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team continue their summer prep for the upcoming FIS World Cup and Olympic season with a mix of gym time, trail running, mountain biking, and roller skiing. Toss in a few victories and a course record along the way, and so far the summer has been very rewarding.
Scott Patterson has been dominating trail running events in Alaska this summer, posting victories in both the Crow Pass Crossing - setting a new course record for the 22.5-mile backcountry footrace from Girdwood to Eagle River - and winning the Cirque Series event at Alyeska Resort.
“My summer training has been going quite well,” said Patterson, who has been training with the Alaska Pacific University club program. “I’ve spent the whole spring and summer in Anchorage in order to keep things simple and focused. This approach has paid off in solid progress in training sessions as well as setting several course records at trail running races. After 8 years racing Crow Pass, including seven victories, I finally got the record. This has been a big summer goal for several years.”
At the Cirque Series race in Alyeska, Alaska, Patterson led a host of the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team’s Anchorage-based athletes, including teammate Sophia Laukli, who won the women’s pro division. Ben Ogden also made the trip to Alaska from his home base in Vermont for a few weeks of training, finishing eighth in the pro division. Kendall Kramer and Sydney-Palmer Leger also participated in the women’s Expert division. Laukli also won the Cirque Series race at Snowbird, Utah, on Saturday, Aug. 21.
With almost half of the Davis U.S. Cross Country Team living and training in Anchorage, World Cup Cross Country Coach Matt Whitcomb, and Development Team Coach Kate Johnson made a visit to Anchorage to check in on the summer training progress. “The purpose of the trip was not to organize the camp so much as to check in with every athlete,” Whitcomb said. “Everybody's working hard, enjoying each other's company and there is just great synergy going on, I can't wait to see what comes from it.”
Unfortunately, a summer skiing camp on the Eagle Glacier had to be cancelled due to the rebuilding of the on-site lodge. But, that didn’t deter the athletes from getting together and trying something new.
“Something different this summer was that a big group of guys, both on the U.S. Ski Team, and from other teams, lived and trained together in Anchorage,” said Gus Schumacher. “We had a house that we all stayed in and it ended up being super awesome. It really helped a lot to push each other, and establish a strong frame of teamwork to bring into our next camps and winter racing.”
Following last summer’s Covid-19 travel restrictions, many athletes enjoyed training with their home club programs throughout the prep period. And that has also carried over to this summer as well with many athletes enjoying the comforts of home, and the opportunity to focus on the little things that will make a difference once the season starts.
“Most of my training this summer has been very similar to last year with a few small alterations,” Patterson said. “I felt last year’s training cycle was quite productive so I wanted to replicate that with a few improvements.”
“Nothing different for me - just a continued emphasis on recovery and training smart while training hard,” added Jessie Diggins, who is training in Vermont with her Stratton Mountain School Elite Team program, alongside teammates Julia Kern and Katherine Ogden, all of whom have been pushing each other this summer.
“I really value having a group to work with all summer, pushing and learning from one another,” said Kern, who has also mixed mountain biking and gravel riding into her summer training program. “I have mostly been focused on having high quality and smart training, making the most of each session and also prioritizing recovery, listening to what my body needs.”
“I think what people want out of summer training varies based on age,” Whitcomb said. “The older we all get the more home feels just right, and the younger we are the more stimulus we need from our peers. And sometimes that means going to a camp or something, So it’s about finding the right balance.”
That balance also includes getting athletes on snow, which has been a challenge with the Eagle Glacier Camp cancelled. However, many of the athletes have participated in competitive events this summer, including mountain bike and gravel races for both Kern and Katharine Ogden in Vermont.
“That is where we find our edge,” Whitcomb said of the head-to-head competition. “We can get 95, 96, 97, 98% there, no problem (through hard summer training), but to get 99 and 100% there, that takes going head-to-head and feeling some fight, some discomfort, and some vulnerability.”
Kevin Bolger has also been jumping into some racing this summer. Bolger is training in Sweden alongside his girlfriend Maja Dahlqvist and the Swedish National Team this summer, going head-to-head in roller ski races.
As for a mid-summer snow session, Diggins, Kern, Ogden, and their Stratton Mountain School teammates are heading over to Germany in late August for some snow time at the Oberhof Ski Tunnel. The final camp of the prep period is a high-altitude camp scheduled for October 4-18 in Park City, then it’s off to Scandinavia for the opening World Cup events in Ruka, Finland Thanksgiving Weekend.