Peak performers: Shiffrin, ski team return to snow for camp

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FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2017, file photo, Mikaela Shiffrin gets low in her turn during a downhill training run at Copper Mountain, Colo. Shiffrin and the U.S. women's ski team, along with the men's Europa squad, returned to snow for a June camp in Copper Mountain, Colorado. It was a chance to go fast on the slopes again after the season abruptly ended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily via AP, File)

Mikaela Shiffrin rode the chair lift to the top of Copper Mountain on a sunny June day and took in a sight she hadn’t seen in a while: A freshly groomed, snow-packed course just waiting to be skied.

Paradise.

A little tropical, too, given the warm weather that had the carefully manicured slopes turning mushy by mid-morning.

Didn't matter. It was just energizing to be back on skis.

The two-time Olympic champion and the rest of the U.S. women’s team, along with the men’s Europa squad, recently returned to snow for a two-week, pay-strict-adherence-to-social-distance-guidelines camp in Copper Mountain, Colorado. This was a chance to zip through a course again after the season abruptly ended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Being back skiing, on the snow, it just felt like home,” said Bella Wright, who made her World Cup debut last season. “It felt like we were back doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”

The main objective of the camp that ended last week was nothing more than honing technique. For about three hours a day — beginning around sunrise — the team turned in run after run on the giant slalom course. Shiffrin and the other technical racers also were able to charge through some slalom gates.

“To get this training in during June is something we need because we missed spring training,” U.S. women’s coach Paul Kristofic explained. “It’s just great quality mileage in the bank.”