SSWSC members skiing with best at camp

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— Even the Bode Millers, Ted Ligetys and Lindsey Vonns started somewhere.

For 25 young Alpine skiers, this month's U.S. Ski Team National Development System camp at Mammoth Mountain in California might just be their start. The camp offers a shot at not only making the U.S. Ski Team, but also possibly competing in the 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics.

The camp, which started June 2 and runs through Saturday, brings the top young Alpine skiers - ages 14 and older - from across the country together for on-snow skiing, dry-land training and video analysis.

Five members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club were invited to the camp based on their results from the previous season.

Max and Anna Marno, Shane McLean, Ryan McConnell and Hig Roberts made the elite camp, essentially the last stop before making a run at the U.S. Ski Team.

"Each year is a different crop, and the athletes bring a different atmosphere," said Walt Evans, U.S. Ski Team National Development System director. "I've said this before, but this group of young men and ladies is the most disciplined group we've had."

The program started in 2002 and is designed to bring together athletes and coaches in a competitive environment and give skiers a look at what the U.S. Ski Team is all about.

"We've got the best kids, the best coaches and the best mountain to put this project together," Evans said.

Days begin at 5:30 a.m. with warm-ups and stretching. After breakfast, athletes are on the snow from 7 to 11 a.m. Athletes cool down, tune skis and go through a dry-land training session before going to bed.

"It's definitely more intense," Anna Marno said. "You wake up earlier, the competition is at a high level - especially the competition between the athletes is higher. The coaches push you harder. It's a good experience to be here."

The camp focuses on technique and basics. Along with getting instruction from some of the top coaches, athletes see the best skiers in their peer group.

In the end, Evans said, it makes for a great future for Alpine skiing.

"For me personally, my main goals were to get a solid base of my fundamental skills," Max Marno said. "I've accomplished a lot of that here. I want to build on it for future camps and fix problems that I had last season and build on it for next season."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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