By Sarah Getzelman, Rowmark Team Manager
As the days are becoming shorter and colder, Rowmark Ski Academy and Junior Program student-athletes are putting the final touches on their race preparation and gearing up for competitions. Following a challenging snow year in 2017–2018, this season is off to a better start with some natural snow, and cold, snow-making temperatures at the ski areas.
Our Rowmark teams—consisting of some of the best junior alpine ski racers and student-athletes nationally and internationally—worked hard from spring through autumn in our rigorous conditioning program, which gets athletes in shape for winter. This year's program has included the following:
- In June, we kicked off our on-snow camps at Mammoth Mountain, California.
- Before the start of school, our U14–U19 teams traveled to Mt. Hood, Oregon, for our second on-snow camp.
- Over fall break in early October, the U19 team traveled to Schnalstal, Italy, for a 10-day camp. They trained next to world-class athletes from around the region and enjoyed excellent snow conditions, incredible views, and delicious Italian food.
- The next stop for the Academy is Aspen, Colorado, while our Junior Program heads to Sun Valley, Idaho, for a five-day, pre-Thanksgiving camp.
Once the winter trimester starts, our athletes in grades eight through twelve will be out of school at noon daily and skiing full-time at Park City and Snowbird from December through April.
Rowmarkers work together and support one another, and that was a primary focus during our 10th Biennial Rowmark Ski Academy Bear Lake Challenge in early September. The orientation weekend tests Rowmarkers physically, mentally, and socially; identifies and develops leadership, spirit, and cooperation skills; and facilitates team bonding. Also over that weekend, skiers elected their 2018–2019 team captains: seniors Jake Bleil and Elena Zipp, and juniors Eliza Hodgkins and Carter Louchheim.
As our seasoned captains well know, year-round physical conditioning is a critical component to optimal skiing. Graham Flinn—our new women's and conditioning head coach—has already started directing a dynamic, periodized daily physical-training program that includes strength/power, cardiovascular, plyometrics, quickness and coordination, flexibility, and cross-training/games.
In addition to physical conditioning, the Academy team works with a mental-performance coach and a nutritionist starting in October. The mental-performance coach works with the athletes on psychological focus, concentration, imagery, self-talk, mental toughness, and pre-performance routines. These mental skills are as critical as physical strength and can significantly enhance performance. Nutrition education also plays a major role in the athletes' well-being and performance.
As the competition season approaches, Rowmarkers look forward to putting their conditioning to the test. Their days will soon be filled: morning academic classes are followed by afternoon ski training, video review, ski tuning, and evenings of homework. Their race schedule takes them all over the country and for some, to Canada and Europe. The extensive travel means Rowmarkers will miss several weeks of school in the winter, testing their organizational, communication, and time-management skills. The athletes know they must make the grade academically before they can make the starting gate at a ski race. Success hinges on the support of the Rowland Hall faculty and their extra efforts of frequent communication, consultation sessions, and exam preparation, all of which enable Rowmarkers to not only survive the academic load but often to excel. We thank our teachers for their commitment.
Our Junior Program has also added some new coaches to our skilled staff. Please welcome Darryl Whitaker as our Academy Prep Head Coach, Merrick Flygare and Eric Dooley-Feldman with our All-Star team, and Richie Douglas with our All-Mountain Rippers. Junior Program athletes completed a productive fall-conditioning phase and kick off their on-snow prep period with the Sun Valley camp. We have an exciting race series this year—please come out and support our Junior Rowmarkers as they go for the gold!
Our Academy and Junior Program develop young athletes to their fullest potential. This takes place on the race course, in the classroom, and everywhere in between. Working together as a team, building character, embracing struggle, and committing to personal and academic excellence all set our program apart. We look forward to the challenges and successes of the approaching season.