By Todd Brickson, Rowmark Program Director
As you can imagine, Rowmark’s activities this summer and fall have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 guidelines and mitigation efforts. It’s been a challenging and character-building several months, and we are very proud of the effort and seriousness of the Rowmarkers and staff in following strict protocols to keep each other safe.
To start, our annual June ski camp at Mammoth Mountain, CA, was cancelled outright as the ski area remained closed due to the pandemic. In its place, the Academy shifted gears to a weeklong intense and unique dryland conditioning camp, which culminated in a sunrise hike to the top of Jupiter Peak followed by a team-relay paddleboard, mountain bike, and trail run triathlon race at the Jordanelle Reservoir. The Rowmarkers exhibited strong teamwork, comradery, and effort throughout the week.
From mid-June to mid-August the focus remained on a long conditioning block before we got the green light to get back on snow August 15–23 at Mt. Hood, OR. It was motivating to finally be back on snow since the mid-March shutdown. The Mt. Hood management enforced the COVID-19 protocols very seriously, and the outdoor setting proved to be a safe environment for all the teams training there. Our Mt. Hood camp included the Academy and Junior programs.
After the Mt. Hood camp, we rolled right into the beginning of school and scrambled to adjust to the hybrid learning program. Physical testing and then a second extended conditioning block ensued each day after school. We had to cancel the U19/FIS Team ski camp in Italy due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions, but we were able to replace that camp with a successful camp in Copper Mountain, CO, in late October.
As I write this in mid-November, our Academy team is all in Aspen Highlands, CO, for our final ski camp of the season before we return to Utah for local training and the fast-approaching competition season. The snow conditions in Aspen are great for race training and the Rowmarkers are working hard on their technique and tactics. They also carve out time in the afternoons and evenings to keep up with their schoolwork and Zoom with their teachers, in between conditioning workouts, ski tuning, and video review with their coaches. Busy and challenging days, for sure.
Meanwhile, our Junior program is gearing up to host their fall camp locally at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP). We are all grateful for the early snowfall and the commitment to snowmaking at the UOP. Our athletes will greatly benefit from this preparation period.
It has been a crazy several months as we adapt to social distancing, mask wearing, and disinfecting measures at every turn in our training and conditioning. Our race season is going to look very different also. Virus mitigation is requiring races with small fields, splitting genders, and much less time in lodges in addition to the normal protocols.
As “normal” team travel is not allowed, I want to give a big shout-out to the Rowmark parents who have stepped up to provide all the transportation, lodging, and meals, which are new requirements in this COVID-19 world. Another big shout-out to the tremendous effort and professionalism of the teachers and administration; we are very proud to be part of such a supportive school. The Rowmarkers and staff continue to meet the challenge. We are looking forward to the start of the competition season and any new curveballs we may encounter.
Banner photo: Rowmark Academy team 2019–2020