New Olympic Hopefuls Training in the Gorge!
US Sailing just wrapped up a 1-week training camp for young Olympic hopefuls in the Gorge (capped by a regatta, of course!), and it was en eye-opener for the kids. For those of you lucky enough to have sailed in the Gorge, you remember your first time, don’t you? The camp ended last weekend, but we hear that the kids are still there having a blast. Organizer CarollAnn Alie pulled out all the stops and it showed!
Yes, that CarollAnn Alie: You know, three-time Olympian, World Champ, entrepreneur extraordinaire. She moved to the area three years ago now, but she’s been coming to the Gorge before it was called the Gorge! The idea for this training camp came after a conversation with US Sailing’s Olympic Development Director Leandro Spina in Miami earlier this year, and it didn’t take long for them to hatch a plan. There were two Open Series regattas scheduled for windsurfers on the West Coast this summer (one in Long Beach mid-July and the other in San Francisco mid-August), so it made perfect sense to fill in the gap and give the kids an opportunity to bond and hone their skills in what is considered one of the best sailing venues in the world.
“I had tears in my eyes when the athletes first arrived here!” said CarollAnn. “When I moved to the Gorge three years ago, I don’t think people really thought it could happen. But I didn’t give up, I worked hard, and I made it happen with Leandro, and it was a pure success. It was my first time on the other side (it was hard for me, I prefer to race!), but it was good to be there for the athletes! I can’t wait to do it all again!”
“It was wonderful,” added US Sailing coach Yaniv Meier. “The place is well known for the wind conditions, but we also enjoyed the support of the local coaching community, which was a big support for us. See you next time!”
Danicka Sailer (USA 111) and Xavier Ferlet (USA 451) took home the wins at the inaugural Gorge Olympic Cup at the end of the week (and a plane ride around Mt Hood for a prize – how cool is that?), but more importantly, all camp participants learned a great deal about where they stood in their Olympic development and what they needed to do to improve. Marseille (site of the 2024 Games) is just a short three years ahead!
Here’s what the kids had to say (OK, Sammy and Xavier aren’t exactly kids anymore – though you couldn’t tell by looking at them on the water):
Danicka Sailer (15, Hawaii): “We got to train in really heavy wind conditions, which is something I’ve never really done before. We all had so much fun and we all got so much better as a group!”
Alex Temko (18, Florida): “These are some very intense (but fun!) conditions! The whole group is moving up. Everyone is having an absolute blast ripping and shredding here!”
Mani Pahuatini (15, Hawaii): “It’s pretty sick. I’m motivated by all my friends and teammates, pushing it to the limit, and breaking some battens while I’m at it – we might have cracked some boards too!”
Calum McDonald (14, Hawaii): “Everyone is very nice here. The Gorge is good training because it’s flat water, and there’s upwind current. Our cabin is right here and we can do two sessions in a day!”
Manu Nores (18, Florida): “What a great time. Sailing with friends, competing at a high level, building skills and ripping around out there learning to control this crazy new gear!”
Xavier Ferlet (54, California): “We had wind absolutely every day. The weather was gorgeous, and the water is pretty warm! We all learned a lot from each other, and the standard improved tremendously!”
Sammy Perez Hults (35, Dominican Republic / Hawaii): “This was an awesome opportunity to sail here in the Gorge. I thought I already had awesome wind back home in Maui, but this is strong as hell! I can’t wait to stay here for another week and freestyle!”
Ethan Froelich (17, Texas): “I absolutely love it here. It’s great to have consistent heavy wind training. We’ve gotten a lot closer as a team, and it’s very nice to bounce ideas off each other and share what we’ve been doing and experiment with different things.”
Want to get a taste of what it feels like to be coached at the ODP? Check out this short video (footage courtesy of Lyrah Colvin):