Travis Ganong is an up-and-coming U.S. Ski Team Alpine racer. Ganong hails from Lake Tahoe, Calif. where he grew up skiing at Squaw Valley. In 2012, he finished 12th, a career best, on the famed Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbuehel, Austria. When he’s not racing, Ganong spends his time free skiing and even did some big mountain skiing this past summer in Alaska for Warren Miller’s latest film: Flow State. Ganong will be blogging for OnTheSnow throughout this World Cup season as he prepares for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.   

On October 28, I flew out to Colorado for the last on-snow ski camp of the prep-period before the World Cup season. Copper Mountain and the U.S. Ski Team have partnered up to offer the only early season Downhill training venue in the world. They have cleared trees on the run top to bottom, making it wide enough for Downhill. They have installed a state of the art snow-making system that automatically turns on when the temps are cold enough, and they have installed A-net towers and rows and rows of B-net, making this training venue truly top notch. 

Once the temps are cold enough, countless hours go into positioning snow guns, moving water and air hoses, pushing the piles of snow with a snow cat evenly across the hill, placing B-net, and making sure the snow surface is up to par, all in preparation for our arrival. I have to thank all the people that dedicated their time to work on this project and get it done in record time this season. And to think, they did this without any natural snow!

So this last camp of the season is kind of like the calm before the storm. This is the last time to test out equipment and dial in technique before the “White Circus” (World Cup Tour) begins. There are always little changes that are made to boots and skis, fine-tuning everything to get a few extra tenths or even hundredths of a second faster. Many mornings are spent up on the “test track” just tucking strait and letting the timer decide which skis are the fastest. 

The most amazing thing about the speed setup here in Colorado is that we can run full length Downhill and Super G. And it is tough! A one minute forty-second downhill gets very tiring at 12,000 feet. Especially when we are doing four runs per session. But that is also really beneficial for us, because we can ski ourselves into great physical shape and get to spend a lot of time on the long skis. Overall, I feel like these sessions put me in a much more comfortable and confident place leading into the first World Cup races.

We are officially winding down our last training camp out here in Colorado. Hours, days and months have gone into prepping for the upcoming season in the gym, in South America and here in Colorado. My mind is starting to get into “race mode” and the anxiety that every racer feels leading into a new World Cup season is beginning to build. I am super fired up to see what this season will bring and I can’t wait to continue sharing my experience with all of you at OnTheSnow.com.