Kristina Strandberg striding it out on a bluebird, afternoon session at the Waiorau SnowFarm. “My favorite part of New Zealand is hanging out with friends, skiing with friends, then getting to do it all over again, day after day,” says Strandberg. ©Torin Koos
It’s also Lars Flora’s first time at the SnowFarm. “Real snow, plus three weeks training with the fastest guys in the states, that’s why I’m here.” ©Torin Koos
A secret load of new cars arrive for testing. The Snow Farm is also home to Southern Hemisphere proving grounds - a car-testing facility that currently has prototype Porsche, Maserati, Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagon vehicles on it’s secret test tracks. ©Torin Koos
“From klister to hardwax to hairies, we get it all down here,” continues Whitcomb after a little prodding. “The best replica of Northern Hemisphere winters that can be found anywhere in July or August is here at the SnowFarm.” First step out the door and you’re on the corduroy. Ten steps and your into the wax cabin. From the skiing experience to the convenience, the venue here is dialed for our needs.
“In regards to equipment, we really try to hit the ground running. This means having a handle on how new skis added to the race fleet are running even before that first day at West Yellowstone with the Continental Cuppers or in Beitostolen, Norway with the World Cup team. This gives us time to return skis that might not match the needs of the skier. Three weeks on-snow down here makes this possible.
As good as life on the Farm is, Whitcomb wants American juniors to know that pounding the pavement and putting in the hours still gets the job done. “While it’s necessary for our national team athletes to get a solid block back in touch with the snow this time of year, for juniors, good work on the rollerskis and running is all that’s really required.”
Over the years, Morgan Arritola’s logged her fair share of hours up at the ‘Farm, first with the Sun Valley Olympic Development Team, the last three years with the U.S. Team. “I like coming down here. It’s full-on winter and I’m not skiing on a glacier. It’s more up my alley skiing hard tracks instead of klister-only days, day after day,” says Arritola. “It’s also a sweet place to stay as the car testers* are here. It’s an interesting mesh of car engineers working from sunup to sundown, and athletes living the simply.”
The SnowFarm is also home to Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds, a Car Testing facility that currently has prototype Porsche, Maserati, Ford, Peugeot and Volkswagon vehicles on it’s secret test tracks – a secret load of new cars arrive for testing.
The Snowfarm – Not Just For Able-Bodied Skiers
The Canadian Disabled Ski Team is also a long-time believer in the Snow Farm. This is their sixth year in a row calling Snow Farm their home away from home. “Quite simply, this is the best facility for skiers with disabilities to ski in the summer. From accommodation to trails to service, we have nothing like this anywhere else,” says Kaspar Wirz, Canada’s Head Disabled Ski Coach, a title he’s held since 1996.
“The level in international disabled skiing is much higher now than ever before. The level of commitment is getting to that found at the top of the able-bodied competition. Already the Japanese Disabled Team (also currently at the Snow Farm) has spent fourteen weeks in the Voukatti ski tunnel since March. For us, this is our most productive month of training. Every year we see a definite jump in our athlete’s technique and in their understanding what training really means. Here, you can do anything – easy, hard, you name it.”
“Life on the ‘Farm is easy. To live, eat and train here is quite nice,” says Sweden’s Kristina Strandberg. “My favorite part of New Zealand is hanging out with friends, skiing with friends, then getting to do it all over again, day after day.” While Strandberg might call Bend, Oregon here home training grounds and the SuperTour the race circuit she knows best, it doesn’t take long to notice her focus is centered on something else a little bigger – representing Sweden at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. For Strandberg, New Zealand is her opportunity to dial in the loose ends of the racing puzzle. “Technique is an on-going project. Down here I’m getting constant, real-time feedback from coaches and the video camera. I’m ahead of where I thought I’d be in my progression with this.
“I’ve also been testing skis. A lot. I switched companies. I’m now skiing on Atomic and the switch has been smooth – not the tedious process I anticipated. The glide and ease of skiing the new skis is high.”
It’s also Lars Flora’s first time at the SnowFarm. “Real snow, plus three weeks training with the fastest guys in the states, that’s why I’m here,” says Flora.
“Awesome. How else do I describe it? This might be the best skiing I get all year,” begins U.S. Ski Team’s Morgan Smyth. “This is my first time on-snow outside the winter. It’s nice to work on technique and not have to worry about a race on the weekend. At races I’m concerned about so much else – learning the course, picking skis, getting my preparation right – that making real changes in the way I ski can get lost in the process. Now, though, I get to log lots of hours and keep that technique focus, especially in classic. I want to ski more powerfully. I want a more dynamic kick, ride the ski longer. I want to ski big.”
“The jet lag, the travel, it’s not that bad. It’s a longer flight from San Francisco to Auckland than to fly to Europe, but the time change is less. I don’t recommend taking sleeping pills at three a.m. though and skiing at nine. My memory’s still a bit cloudy about that morning. But not about my decision to head south to the Snow Farm.”