Steamboat Springs Jenny Allen couldn't help but feel a little odd while standing near the top of the Copper Mountain Ski Resort on Tuesday morning.
While her friends in Steamboat were out biking, playing soccer or basking in the Yampa Valley's 75-degree sunshine, she was standing on melting snow at a ski racing camp.
"It's different, that is for sure," Allen said. "But this is a rocking camp and a lot of fun."
Allen is one of 18 Steamboat athletes at the resort this week as part of a summer ski camp hosted by Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coaches.
Next week, the club will host 24 additional skiers for another weeklong camp.
Copper Mountain is closed to the public but the SSWSC, Williams College, Team Summit and the U.S. Snowboarding Team are taking advantage of an offer from the resort to train on its still-snowy slopes early this summer.
"It's like skiing in Steamboat in November, but it's a little warmer," coach Terry DelliQuadri said.
The summer conditions tend to make the snow a little icy first thing in the morning and slushy in the afternoon, he added. But considering the alternative, the conditions are perfect for the Steamboat athletes.
This is the first time the 13-year-old Allen has taken part in a summer ski camp and she hopes to improve her skiing by skipping the summer break she normally has.
"This way, I will not have to start over next year," Allen said. "This way, I can just keep building."
DelliQuadri said summer camps are a great way for skiers to gain a competitive edge during the off-season.
"There are so many things going on in the ski season that it's hard to focus just on skiing," he said. "Here we have the skiers' full attention. We can get back to basics and work on things that will make these athletes better skiers next winter."
The camp is a mix of on-snow training and off-snow conditioning. It stresses skiing fundamentals and fun through free skiing, drills and course work.
Skiers also get daily video analysis.
Since Copper is located at 12,000 feet, the slopes still have a good base of snow on four runs, complemented by mild summer weather.
Steamboat skiers in the camp range from 9 to 15 years of age.
"Most of the skiers are wearing T-shirts," DelliQuadri said.
The SSWSC will host a total of 12 camps this summer in a number of disciplines including Nordic and alpine.
"We are offering a lot of camps this year," said Sarah Floyd, Winter Sports Club athletics director. "Camps are important, but we still like to see our athletes take part in a wide variety of different sports."
Floyd said ski camps are not new, but are becoming more important in the sport of skiing today.
For skiers such as Allen, who is hoping to ski at the Olympic Games someday, the odd feeling that comes from standing at the top of a ski run in June, it's just a part of life.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail email@example.com