Canadian men's team in Chile
The Canadian men’s speed team is on its second camp of the summer in La Parva and Portillo, Chile, including World Cup veterans Robbie Dixon, Louis-Pierre Hélie, John Kucera and young guns Kelby Halbert, Dustin Cook and Ben Thomsen.
“We’re trying to take advantage of good snow conditions,” said the men's head coach Paul Kristofic. “Portillo is probably the best place in the world to ski in the summer. The younger guys also raced in the South America Cup (in La Parva), with two downhills and a super-G.”
Not making the trip are 2011 world downhill champion Erik Guay and Calgary’s Jan Hudec. Both skiers decided to sit out the camp to rest back injuries. Manuel Osborne-Paradis is also continuing to work his way back from injuries.
“Training is going really well,” said Guay, who attended the first summer camp in Switzerland. “I decided not to take part in the Chile camp so I can focus on getting my back healthy. I aim to be at the next camp in October in France.”
Dixon said he misses his absent teammates but is enjoying skiing in Portillo.
"On one hand you don't have the guys you're used to training with and you want them to be here, but on the other, it's such a small group with a lot of one-on-one with the coaches and a pretty fresh course all day long," said Dixon, who sat out the end of last season with a serious concussion. "At the end of the day, I would rather be with the whole group!
"Things are good. I'm feeling confident on the skis, the head's good and I'm happy to be back down in Portillo. It's one of my favourite pre-season training locations. The downhill track doesn't get any better anywhere else at this time of year and the lodging and food ain't so bad!"
Kristofic said the speed team feels “a little bit incomplete” right now but skipping this camp gives the injured skiers the chance to focus on getting healthy before the World Cup season kicks off in late October.
“It’s difficult to ski with real drive and confidence when you are worried about your back,” said Kristofic of Guay. “He’s trying to get to a place where the back issues don’t become the primary focus. We want him to focus on being ready for the ski season. Jan is just trying to get to a place where he doesn’t have any flare-ups.
“There’s a little bit of frustration with the injuries, but at the same time, it gives the young guys a chance to focus on their own, and also allows us to spend a little more time with the guys who are coming back from injury.”
Kucera and Hélie both returned to snow earlier this summer following serious injuries. They will continue to take part in modified programs as they work towards a return to competition.