Sunset from our apartment in La Parva

Guys relaxing after an afternoon workout
Ski testing! Finding fast skis for this season

This summer, most of us on the U.S. Ski Team have spent a lot of time with our heads down and grinding away in the gym. In an Olympic year, it seems the intensity ramps up and everybody is looking to maximize fitness levels and do whatever is necessary to enter the season as a contender. After three months in the gym, the winds have changed and these past three weeks we travelled to La Parva, Chile, to get back on our skis.

Our group has been slightly expanded to nine members on the world cup downhill team. Four young racers have been added, and they were looking to prove themselves at their first real world cup-level training camp. This added spirit seemed to invigorate our group and the training was focused and at a high level.

A ski camp is a tiring venture, day after day of 5:30 a.m. wake up calls, tough ski training, fitness training and video analysis all become routine. Also, La Parva sits at about 10,000 feet, so usually whenever there is free time you can find most of the guys trying to grab a nap or eating a plateful of pasta to replenish the energy.

As I get older, I really appreciate these camps because it is a place to minimize distractions and focus solely on the skiing and training at hand. The summer time is where most racers can actually work on technique and equipment changes. Getting everything dialed in now is imperative to being able to concentrate only on going fast once the winter racing season begins.

This year we will actually be making two trips to Chile, the first to La Parva is in the books, and we are now home for two weeks to recharge. We will then spend the second half of September in Portillo, another Chilean resort that boasts excellent downhill training. This kind of schedule is normal for international world cup teams. The huge mountains in the Andes of Chile provide long ski runs and are ideal for us to train downhill, which will often run from the very top to the very bottom of a resort.

I think that our approach is right-on this season. The team is strong with new camaraderie and with the Olympics so near it is a fun atmosphere to be a part of. My first Olympics were in Salt Lake City 2002, and I can say without a doubt that the upcoming Games in Sochi will be the hardest team to make during my tenure. I will be there and I will be gunning for the podium, but before that time arrives we have some more summer skiing to take care of. I will check in again after Portillo and let you know how the team is taking shape. Thanks for reading.

You can also follow my journey on Twitter: @MarcOsullivan