Revelstoke racers take on Silver Star speed camp

Speed camp introduces the specialized skills of downhill and super-G events in a safe and highly controlled environment

Revelstoke Ski Club racer Colm Molder (left) and Alexis Welch tackle the speed camp course at Silver Star on Feb. 1.

Revelstoke Ski Club racer Colm Molder (left) and Alexis Welch tackle the speed camp course at Silver Star on Feb. 1.

Mary Clayton/Revelstoke Ski Club

This past weekend went by more quickly than usual for some of the Revelstoke Ski Club’s young racers. A group of 10 to 14 year olds attended the Vernon Ski Club’s annual three-day speed camp at Silver Star Resort.

Speed camp introduces the specialized skills of downhill and super-G events in a safe and highly controlled environment. The fully fenced and safety-netted 1.8 km course is initially skied section by section, with coaches watching carefully. Then the racers take on the entire length over a thigh-burning one-and-half minutes, taking on jumps, rollers and long, sweeping curves at speeds over 90 km/h.

Coach Filip Mertlik had high praise for the venue and the opportunity. “It’s great to have such a long course all to ourselves, with such excellent safety procedures,” he said. “This is where the kids start to learn how to handle real speed, which is an integral part of ski racing. This course allows us to approach high speeds carefully, in a controlled setting.”

For the racers, speed camp offers a unique opportunity to let their skis run without worry about others skiers on the slope. They concentrate on learning the subtleties of optimizing body position for aerodynamics and riding a flat ski for speed while using just enough edging to make the turns. Several rollers on the course will send them flying unless they pre-jump properly and barely leave the snow.

There is a big emphasis on skier safety and numerous volunteers maintain the course and strictly control public skiers at two crossing points.

U14 racer Alexis Welch hit 91 km/h, one of the fastest speeds of the day. She explains that practice and familiarity with the course helps to build confidence.

“Even though that’s the fastest I’ve ever gone, it didn’t feel that fast because I’m feeling more comfortable with the speed,” she said. “The speed training at home and at this camp has helped a lot. We practice each section and really get to know the course, so it’s not scary at all.”