|Robbie Dixon, one of Whistler Blackcomb's resident Olympian athletes|
Dreaming of the Olympics? Would you like to do more than just watch the Winter Games? How about actually skiing or snowboarding with an Olympian to see if some of that star quality rubs off? Or having a go at Bobsledding or Biathlon?
This week my article about Skiing with an Olympian in Canada has just been published in skicanada.org’s Snow Online News: https://www.skicanada.org/learning-from-olympians/. And so I thought I would add details here of where you can also do this at various US resorts.
|Heidi Voelker - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort|
|Deer Valley Resort Ski With A Champion Program|
The St Regis Deer Valley – the only North American resort with a funicular! - has partnered with the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation (UOLF), offering two customized Olympic experiences for their guests this season.
|Bobsled with an Olympian - Credit: Gene Sweeney Jr|
‘Bobsled with an Olympian’ offers the chance to replicate the thrills of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games with Olympic Silver Medalists Valerie Fleming or Shauna Rohbock. The event starts with a presentation of Fleming’s or Rohbock’s inspirational stories and an exclusive Olympian-led tour of the bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park. Following safety demonstrations, it’s the ride of a lifetime, ripping through 10 curves while pulling 3Gs and hitting speeds up to 70 mph. Finally, there’s a medal ceremony, with an autographed photo from Shauna and Val, as well as a special souvenir – all for $3,500 per person.
The St Regis Olympic Biathlon Experience is a combo of shooting with skiing or snowshoeing with Zach Hall and Sara Studebaker Hall (both from the US Biathlon National Team, married in 2015) – at a cost of $5,000 split between a group of 10. After coaching from professional staff in the use of precision rifles - comparable to those used by Olympic bi-athletes – there’s a safety briefing, instructional range orientation and practice time followed by a mini competition. Both Olympic packages include healthy athlete breakfasts, stretching session, pop-up lunch with the athletes as well as a get-together the evening before. Other benefits of staying at the St Regis include 24-hour Butler Service and a Val d’Isère-style ski beach at the 14,000 sq ft spa.
|Billy Kidd's free clinic at Steamboat - Courtesy of Steamboat|
|Olympian mogul skier Nelson Carmichael - Courtesy of Steamboat|
|Me skiing (and lunching) with my Olympian, Linas Viatkus at Steamboat last season|
|Me with Linas at Steamboat|
Now owner of Snowcap Construction (and a Fire Captain/EMT with North Routt Fire Protection District), he is also a race trainer in winter as well as a PSIA Level 3 Certified Ski Instructor. “There are more Olympians here than any other ski town in North America,” says Linas. He attributes this to the great snow and terrain in Steamboat, a strong ski culture, and impact of the legendary Olympic skier, Buddy Werner who, Linas says, put ‘Ski Town, USA’ (Steamboat’s logo) on the map. "When you ski with an Olympian, you're skiing with someone who has refined their skills to the extreme," Linas explains. "Someone who has been in competition, around the world, with others who have also achieved greatness. There's no better way to raise your level of competition than to compete against the best in the world." He says that this perspective can translate to a skiing experience that adds a little extra depth and knowledge of the sport. "When I'm skiing with guests, they especially like to hear about my battles and hardships competing on the world stage," he says. "From racing the longest downhill race in the world with the flu, to competing at the World Alpine Ski Championships without my equipment making it on the plane with me. The stories of enduring the hardships to achieve great heights can help provide a snap shot perspective of what it's like to be an Olympian. The most important information an Olympian can pass on not only to a skiing guest but to the world community is the notion that the Olympics test the might of men and the nation they represent not by bombs and bullets, but by their skill and ability in sport. This pushing of the human limits helps achieve an advancing peaceful world community. From the most efficient technique to the most advanced technologies the Olympics have it all. So take a run with an Olympian to experience a bit of perspective you may not find any where else." The Steamboat Olympian Program is ideal for large or corporate groups:
|Nate Roberts - Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City|
|Nate Roberts - Courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria Park City|
PARK CITY: This winter guests at the Waldorf Astoria Park City will have an opportunity to visit sites from the 2002 Olympic Games with a professional athlete, such as Olympian Nate Roberts, with options to ski at Park City Mountain and/or bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park with Valerie Fleming or Shauna Rohbock.
The Taste of the Winter Games experience ends with a gourmet dining experience with their athlete from the chosen sport at Waldorf Astoria Park City’s acclaimed restaurant, Powder.
|Torino start 2006, brake woman Valerie Fleming and driver Shauna Rohbock - Courtesy of Utah Olympic Park|
"As excitement for the forthcoming Winter Olympics builds, this is an incredible opportunity for guests of all ability levels to get into the Olympic spirit and learn what it takes to train like a professional athlete,” says Kerry Hing, GM of Waldorf Astoria Park City. “We’re lucky to have the Utah Olympic Park as our neighbors and direct access to Olympic-level slopes, and we’re thrilled to offer this exclusive and unforgettable experience to our guests.”
|Miki in bright pink jacket on left, coaching at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire|
BRETTON WOODS: Michaela (Miki) Fera, a coach for the Bretton Woods Ski Team, runs Girl Powder Ladies Clinic and the new Powder Couple Clinic (running Feb 14, of course) with her husband. Prior to working at Bretton Woods Ski Area in New Hampshire, Miki was an associate program director and ski coach at Kimball Union Academy and a member of the Romanian National Ski Team with credits in three Olympics as well as three World Championships.
|Jonny Moseley, Squaw Alpine's Olympian, hosted Saturday Night Live in 2002 and was also the host for Master of Champions and American Ninja Warrior|
SQUAW VALLEY: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows offers a fun Olympic opportunity for several days in December - Ski and Ride with Olympian, Jonny Moseley. Joining the Dawn Patrol from 7:30-9am, there's the added bonus of untouched slopes and first dibs in powder, followed by an afternoon ski session topped off with après ski with Jonny at Squaw Alpine's Plaza Bar, in Olympic House.
|Après with Jonny Moseley at Squaw Alpine|
“Ski & Ride with Jonny Moseley is a holiday favorite at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows," says Sam Kieckhefer, Public Relations Coordinator at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. "The chance to ski, for free, with an Olympic Gold Medalist is truly a special opportunity. And because Jonny grew up on the slopes of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, he always knows where the best snow is! From inspiring future stars to surprising long-time fans, skiing with Jonny is an event you want to be sure not to miss.”
Around 30-40 people join in the ski component with even more turning up for après. Look out for this program again next season during the December holidays.
|Jonny at Squaw Alpine|
OPTIONS IN EUROPE:
Inghams is offering opportunities to emulate the film Cool Runnings this season. From now to April you can have a go at this exciting sport on ice at La Plagne’s Olympic bobsleigh, built for the 1992 winter games. With 19 bends, a length of 1500m and a vertical drop of 125m it’s not for the faint hearted. Choose from the Bob-Raft – a 4 man, self-steering bobsleigh which reaches speeds of 80km/h or the Speed luge – a solo descent where you plummet down the track, feet first at 90km/h. For the ultimate thrill, opt for Bob racing which twists and turns at a hair raising 120km/h reaching the bottom in just under a minute! Combine this with a stay at the Chalet Almach, fully catered with return flights and airport-to-chalet shuttle. For info visit www.inghams.co.uk/ski-holidays.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Often in the shadow of alpine skiing, not only is cross-country skiing easy to learn, it’s more sociable than downhill skiing and is a fantastic all over body workout! There’s no better place to learn than Ylläs in Lapland which offers a staggering 330km of tracks, 38 of which are floodlit meaning you don’t have to stop even when it’s dark. Warm up your legs on a short looped track, before progressing to a longer scenic route taking you through the spectacular Arctic wilderness – where you might spot a reindeer or two! Tracks are peaceful, snow-laden and well sign-posted with plenty of campfire shelters along the way to stop for a well-earned drink. Inghams offers a learn to cross-country package in Ylläs including 7 days ski and boot hire/5 day lessons and stay at the 4-star Ylläs Log Cabins.
One of the most exciting disciplines to watch at the Winter Olympics is Boardercross, which sees the world’s best snowboarder’s race down a course made up of jumps, berms, rollers – sound fun? Why not test your freestyling skills at Stanton Park, located in St. Anton am Arlberg in the Austrian Tirol. Open until late April the park offers a good range of kicker and small obstacles perfect for trying out your first jumps and tricks. With a 6m tube, jumps that range from 7m to 11m and a number of challenging rails and boxes there’s plenty to inspire too. Access to the freestyle action is served by two lifts and you can re-charge your batteries at the Rendl Beach Bar, chill on the sun terrace and watch the pros in action. Inghams packages include 7 catered nights at the 4-star Mountain Lodge Chalets, St Anton, including return flights and transfers.
If you fancy twirling around the ice like Torvill and Dean, Cortina’s Olympic ice rink is the perfect place to master your pirouette. Situated in the spectacular Italian Dolomites the stadium was built for the 1956 Winter Olympics and has been completely renovated to offer a year-round indoor ice-rink. Get your skates on and speed across the ice with friends and family, or join one of the beginner skating or figure staking lessons available. The ice rink also hosts 1st division ice hockey and curling championships. Stay at the 4-star Chalet Hotel Parc Victoria, Cortina on a catered basis with packages including flights and transfers. For more information and to book, visit .
Be a Part of Olympic Pageantry and Spirit in Lake Placid
Home to the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games, remains an active hub for the Olympics through hosting World Cup events and training Olympic athletes at the Olympic Training Center. This picturesque village, which sits on Mirror Lake and is ringed by Adirondack Mountains, is celebrating its long Olympic history throughout February.
bring the spirit and excitement of fierce winter sports competition back to: On the eve of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the 38th with 2,500 athletes expected to compete in more than 30 events across 17 sports.
after a torch run from the Olympic Ski Jumps to the Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds. : The cauldron used in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games will be
.: Lake Placid will host the Freestyle and Biathlon Nor-ams and . The event is used to qualify skiers to start in NorAm competitions and possible starts in U.S. World Cups. More information can be found
Want to be an Olympian?
When not in use for competitions, anyone can take a brain-rattling bobsled ride with a professional driver and brakeman. Riders bob and weave as they wind through sharp turns at about 55 mph. Biathlon: Lake Placid is one of the few places you can take a lesson in both skiing and rifle marksmanship. Bullets and ski wax…what a combination.
Both the 1932 Olympic rink and the 400-meter speed skating oval where the American Eric Heiden won five Olympic gold medals welcome amateur skaters. And you can ski Olympic trails at Whiteface Mountain and Mt. Van Hoevenberg welcome skiers for downhill and cross-country skiing. For Lake Placid and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum, visitors can purchase an Olympic passport that allows access to the venues for one price.