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.   

It’s that time of year again. Delta flight 5187 departs hot and humid Atlanta full of people carrying ski boots and bound for Santiago, Chile! You start hearing the chatter of skiers talking about an upcoming storm, or the inside scoop about how the ski conditions are down in Chile, and you can sense an intense anticipation as everyone is super fired up to go skiing.

Sandals and board shorts are traded in for long pants and boots as everyone is mentally preparing to transition from the height of summer in the US to the dead of winter only a short nine-hour flight away. This is the annual pilgrimage that a lot of skiers make every summer to have the privilege of skiing on winter snow in South America. Every year for a while now, I have been coming down here for some ski training on “winter” snow in preparation for the upcoming Word Cup ski season in the Northern Hemisphere. The “winter” of a U.S. Ski Teamer really runs from August through May; a little longer than your typical winter. But I love it, and I love the travel and meeting all the like-minded people along the way.  

This year we arrive in Santiago to a light rain and 45 degree weather which only means one thing: it’s snowing up in the mountains. In the midst of a horrible winter in Chile, it seems like we might get lucky—bringing the snow with us on our arrival. We stop at the grocery store in Santiago. We get the fully-loaded eight passenger van fitted with chains and we navigate the 78 switchbacks up into the Andes and arrive in La Parva to find the snow falling! The next morning the storm is gone and the sun is out in all its glorious bluebird powder day grandeur, and we start off our South American ski adventures with a perfect day.