U.S. Adaptive Ski Team Works Hard, Plays Hard

Sept. 18, 2009, 1:43 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – The U.S. Adaptive Alpine Ski Team is working hard at its final camp of the summer in Colorado Springs, CO. The camp is a dry land program that focuses on getting a grasp as to where the athletes are and where they need to be for the season ahead.

Head Coach Ray Watkins explains, "The focus is just to give the coaching staff and athletes a good read on where they are, where they need to do their work in the next two months before we get on snow, whether it be max strength, core strength, or upper body shoulder stabilization for the guys. It's just really picking them apart individually where they can improve, focusing on areas where they can improve on."

Keeping the intensity high, the adaptive Team utilizes all provided resources while in Colorado Springs. The Team will be spending time at the Air Force Academy using a dexa scan machine, which measures bone density.

"We also take advantage of the Air Force Academy and do dexa scans, which are an in gene of the body to test bone density," says Watkins. "We also do some vision training up there for the athletes."

When not testing, the intensity level doesn't drop, it simply shifts departments. The snow-based athletes and coaches switch surfaces to a wheelchair basketball court where they enjoy action packed games of basketball. Playing wheelchair basketball is not only a great way to relieve the stresses of being professional athletes but also a fun way for team bonding.

"We are all out there right now bashing into each other on the wheelchair basketball court and there's no holds barred. In fact, when the athletes get a chance to get me in the thing they take their shots at me and they love it," admits Watkins "When we all get in that chair and are trying to play a sport that we're not all really good at, it just brings us all together."

Tyler Walker (Franconia, NH), one of the many athletes attending the camp, is using the information he receives to help guide his goals for the upcoming season and Paralympics.

"My goal is just to be in tip top shape at that point so that I can give it everything I have and hopefully something good will happen," says Walker.

Many of the performance tests will help athletes understand the path they need to take in order to peak at the Paralympics. The team has opened the end of the camp to a selective group of athletes that will hopefully be on the team in 2014 with hopes of instilling the hard work ethic of the present athletes in the future athletes.

"We're here working hard, excited for the Paralympic year," declares Watkins "This is an important year for everybody on this team and they're going 100 percent all out."