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Disabled XC Trains with Kayaks in Colorado

Mon, Aug  6, 2007 - By US Ski Team

FRISCO, Colo. (Aug. 1) - It's difficult to picture Colorado's Dillon Reservoir as a top training destination for cross country skiing, especially in July, but according to Jon Kreamelmeyer, head coach of the U.S. Disabled Cross Country Ski Team, it's an ideal location for a summer training camp.

Chris Klebl powers down the dirt Williams Fork Road in Colorado (credit: Mark Fox/Summit Daily News)

"Kayaking, yep, that's what we had the guys doing each morning and they were loving it," said Kreamelmeyer, who is in his 10th year at the program helm. "There's only so many ways to get in a solid cardio for these guys without mega muscle impact, so kayaking is a perfect fit. At first I was pretty nervous about how they were going to do, but everyone did a great job. It was unanimous among the team that this was one of the best camps we've had."

Suiting up each morning for the two-hour water sessions were sit-skiers Chris Klebl (Heber City, UT), the 2007 World Cup runner-up, Sean Halsted (Twin Lakes, ID), former World Champion Bob Balk (Long Beach, CA), and Team rookie Andy Soule (Sun Valley, ID). The fifth member of the team Greg Mallory (Portland, OR), who was a member of Discovery Channel's "Adventure Bhutan," a whitewater expedition to one of the most remote areas of the Himalaya, missed the camp due to sickness.

"Greg was really bummed he couldn't make this camp. He would have been a great asset," said Kreamelmeyer. "I figured the first day would be an experience, but everything was perfect. The boats were really user friendly and all the guys took to it pretty quickly. We'd paddle from 9-11 each morning and by the end of the camp, everyone was clipping along."

For Halsted, an Air Force veteran who discovered skiing after falling 40-feet from a helicopter in '98, the workout itself is just as important as adding variety to off-season training. "We're limited to the number of exercises we can do; we can't just put on running shoes and go running," he told the Summit Daily News following a morning workout.

Post lunch, the Team moved to lower elevations for what Kreamelmeyer called an "off-road" roller-skiing workout using modified mountain boards along the Williams Fork River, a rarely traveled dirt road outside of Frisco.

"We found a six-mile section of dirt road along the river that was just the right consistency for the guys. Chris [Klebl] said it was the best dirt roller-skiing he's ever done and he considers himself somewhat of a dirt connoisseur after all the roads he's found in Utah. We got pretty dusty, but it's the low impact of dirt that makes it perfect for training, plus we saw maybe two cars during each session, so there was minimal distraction."

Also included in the weeklong camp was a road trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs for a biathlon segment. With four rifles on loan from Soldier Hollow, the 2002 Olympic biathlon and cross country venue in Utah's Heber Valley, athletes worked through the fundamentals at the OTC's indoor range.

"It's important for us to mix things up," said Kreamelmeyer. "Obviously, we'd like to be on snow more; there is no substitute for the real thing. But when that isn't possible, we try to train creatively and effectively. We also ran exercises with medicine balls at the Olympic Training Center and that, coupled with the biathlon, roller-skiing and kayaking helps to build team unity."

The Team will regroup again in early November with a testing camp in Park City, UT, yet will spend the next months continuing their personalized training programs. Klebl, who finished second in the World Cup standings last season, has opted for New Zealand for three weeks of on-snow training - his sights fixed on ousting World Cup winner Irek Zaripov of Russia next winter.

The U.S. Disabled Cross Country Team prepares for their morning workout on Colorado's Dillon Reservoir (credit: Mark Fox/Summit Daily News)

Modified mountain boards did the trick for this summer workout in Colorado (credit: Mark Fox/Summit Daily News)