National Development Group Gets Extraordinary Opportunity

National Development Group, NDG camps are an initiative of the USSS to help young skiers learn skills and progress. The USSS designs these camps to bring together talented young athletes and provide unique learning opportunities. Alpine Principal Patrick Riml and Development Manager Chip Knight are pleased with the design and execution of the latest project in Mammoth, California. The original concept for this year’s camp was devised by former Forest Men’s Head Coach Carey, Men’s Head Technical Coach Ian Garner and Development Coach Graham Flinn. However, much of the work of executing these projects falls on the few. For the NDG portion of Camp Mammoth, that person was Flinn.

Decisions taken

This year, the USST staff decided that the entire men’s team would train together. The goal was to create an opportunity for athletes and staff of all levels and disciplines to work together. The men’s team believed that the combined effort would provide a unique team-building opportunity and that participants would have the chance to learn from each other. With the blessing of Riml and Knight, Flinn saw this camp as an opportunity to integrate the elite of the NDG group into the national team.

Almost certainly, there was a mixture of excitement and trepidation when Flinn decided to introduce a limited number of NDG athletes to a national team camp. These athletes are young, yet they should meet the expectations and rigor of a professional situation. It was a slam dunk on paper, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. However. by all accounts, the project was a winner.

Left to right – Justin Bigatel, Camden Palmquist, Kai Subith, Ryder Sachett, Hunter Salani, Sawyer Reed, John Kerbaugh, Jeremy Nolting, Finnigan Donley

Voice of participants

NDG coach Kristina Revello said, “Having the camp at the same time as the entire US men’s ski team created rare learning opportunities. The NDG athletes have integrated into the development team and formed relationships with members and staff of the A, B and C teams.” Revello reports that this gave the young athletes a chance to interact with the best men. Revello has seen relationships develop and people share information. According to Revello, “It was a combination of excellent planning by Flinn and organic interaction.”

John Kerbaugh YOB 2005

Kerbaugh began skiing at the Cochran Ski Area and is currently a member of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club and Academy in Vermont. Kerbaugh was the national U18 giant slalom champion this year.

Kerbaugh says, “It was a cool camp because we joined the USA Ski Team. We skied side by side and with Team D. Sometimes we cooperated with Team C. One day we skied SG with Team C and some of the athletes from Team B and A. One of the experiences the coolest things about Mammoth was skiing with the likes of River Radamus and Luke Winters. He adds: “I arrived a day late and free-skied around Mammoth before starting to practice in the gates. It was a great experience.

Kerbaugh talks about the quality of the coaching staff. “Rev, Kristina Revello, was our NDG coach, and she worked closely with Team D coaches Graham Flinn and Nate Bryant from the United States Ski Team. We also had Will Hadden from Vail and my club coach Taber Engelken. It was cool working with them, hearing their insights, understanding their purpose for their skiers and having them share their expertise with all of us.

Revello points out that incorporating club coaches into the NDG program adds to the quality of the camps and provides a chance to broaden everyone’s exposure.

Hunter Salani YOB 2005

Salani is a member of the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. Salani notched podiums in DH and SG at the U18 Nationals this year and earned an invitation to the NDG camp at Mammoth.

While Salani agrees with the value of experience on the hill, he realizes another unique benefit of camp. Salani says, “I thought the best part of camp was that we listened to all the technicians on Team USA. I was lucky – the D-team technician was ready to help me. When I struggled with something, he showed me how he would do it. Graham Lonetto, the Swix rep, let us use his tuning gear. It was cool to see how they fit together and what tools they used. I’m not the best at tuning. I started adjusting my skis a year or two ago. They helped me understand how to do a better job. I got a lot better at tuning during camp, which I thought was pretty cool. It was great to have people who know what they are doing to help us tune our skis.

John Karbaugh: photo by Hunter Salani

Very popular late afternoon presentations

During the camp, each athlete shared a video presentation of their skiing while describing their current challenges and the solutions they were looking for to improve. This self-examination would trigger a constructive conversation resulting in suggestions from their peers and coaches. The observed outcome of the discussions was a focus on advanced training. Staff and athletes agreed that the time spent at introductions added significantly to the unique quality of the camp.

Kerbaugh talks about his experience with presentations. “We presented a quick analysis of our ski and compared it to a World Cup skier. We explained this in front of a group of about 20 people. The group included some of the United States Ski Team athletes and coaches. It was great to discuss my skiing, dig deeper and analyze it more. I then received feedback from the coaches, and they provided me with information on the next steps I could take to improve. It was also great to hear presentations from River Radamus, Luke Winters, Sam Morris and DuPratt. It was cool.”

Salani adds, “We’re young, trying to make the United States Ski Team, and being around the guys that are on the team was great. Spending time with them was amazing. Having them there when we did our presentations was cool. After our presentations, we would hear someone talk about the World Cup; skiers we respect. It was very valuable. During the presentation, they were watching and giving us feedback. I thought that was awesome. The coaches were excellent. We were paired with different coaches every day, and they all had something valuable to add. The best thing I took away from the evening presentations was when Luke Winters said that we each have to find what works best for us and not assume that what he does is the answer.

Revello, Reed and Nolting at work: Photo by Hunter Salani

Build New Relationships

Kerbaugh had his take on the best part of camp: “I enjoyed getting close to some of the other boys my age. I shared a room with two other boys, Hunter Salani and Kai Subith. Kai is from Sun Valley and Hunter is from Vail. They are not in my usual bubble. It was great to learn about what is similar and different in our experiences. I appreciated the opportunity to connect with new friends.

Other national development group participants included

Trent Pennington YOB 2002, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail

Oliver Parazette YOB 2002, Green Mountain Valley School

Kai Subith YOB 2005, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation

Jeremy Nolting YOB 2005, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Finnigan Donley YOB 2005, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation

Sawyer Reed YOB 2005, Green Mountain Valley School.

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