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Getting Some Bend Love

The U.S. cross country ski team trains for its upcoming season



On a blustery Friday at Mt. Bachelor's Nordic Center, the Source caught up with U.S. Cross Country Ski Team's head coach plus some other members to chat about their time training in Bend.

Members of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team at Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center. - CHRIS MILLER
  • Chris Miller
  • Members of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Team at Mt. Bachelor Nordic Center.

"We love it," Chris Grover, head coach for the cross country team said while sitting inside the Nordic Center. "I mean, it's a no-brainer for us because there's great skiing and Sue (Foster) and her staff at Mt. Bachelor take absolute care of us—they provide us with excellent trail conditions and we can ski every morning and then we can mountain bike on your guy's incredible infrastructure of trail networks. And we have great lifting—we get to lift at the Athletic Club (of Bend) and then they take care of us at Rebound Physical Therapy."

Haley Swirbul, a 20-year-old skier from Anchorage, Alaska, said this is her second year coming to Bend to train. Swirbul—who races in the skate and classic skiing categories—said she likes coming to Bend because of the welcoming community and the environment.

"They (Mt. Bachelor) do such a great job with grooming and opening the facilities for us, and the Athletic Club of Bend and the people here are just excited about skiing," Swirbul said, munching on an energy bar while she escaped the driving rain.

Grover said 18 of the team's 20 athletes came to Bend this year to kick off their training season, in preparation for the World Cup and other racing this winter. Along with them is the full staff from the U.S. ski and snowboard teams, helping with nutrition, general strength training and physical therapy.

"The training facilities down in Bend and being able to ski up here every morning, it's a unique place," Grover said about why the team comes to Bend to train. "There are very few places in the world that really have this to offer, so it's a camp that we never questioned, and the athletes never questioned it, because they love coming here and we love coming here and it's just a great way to start our year."

Grover said he gets the racers—who range in age from 17 to 33—to refocus on their skiing technique and has them doing interval and speed work. The more intense workouts come closer to the ski season.

"Making sure the athletes are going into the end of the preparation season from a good technical starting place and when they go to roller skis or they're in subsequent ski camps, hopefully they are ingraining really good patterns of movement based on some of the work they've done here," Grover said.

The team was here from May 20 to June 3. Even though most of its time was spent training, they did have some time for fun, as well.

"The river wave, we got to do that last year and a lot of people are hoping to do it again," Swirbul said. "We have some supporters in town who are generous with wet suits and boards—they're awesome."

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