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The summer of 2021 saw nonstop action on Mt. Hood’s Palmer snowfield ahead of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. As the only year-round ski resort in North America, Timberline Lodge is a perpetual summertime training destination for Olympic hopefuls with dedicated alpine, mogul, halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross-training sites. On any given day, winter athletes including U.S. Olympic gold medalists Red Gerard, Jamie Anderson, Shaun White, and David Wise could be found upping the difficulty of their tricks and putting the finishing touches on their competition runs under the summer sun.
Every opportunity to train on the snow is critical for these athletes. Following summer training, the selection process kicks into gear with a series of qualifying events leading up to the Winter Olympics. The final Olympic team is announced only weeks before the opening ceremonies to ensure those athletes riding at their peak are representing the U.S.
Timberline Goes All Out For Olympic Hopefuls
Timberline in the summer is like nowhere else in the world. The resort operates two high-speed quad chairlifts on the Palmer Snowfield — the Magic Mile and the uppermost Palmer Lift accessing intermediate-rated terrain. The steeper upper slopes consist of marked lanes of groomed snow and ski race training lanes, which is where you’ll find the official training site of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Teams including giant slalom, slalom, moguls and a skier/snowboardcross course complete with a world-cup start gate. These lanes are maintained daily for the racers, with a public lane available for top to bottom runs. Campers from summer ski race camps including Mt. Hood Academy are also able to train right alongside these premiere athletes.
Further down the snowfield on the lower angle slopes is the location of the new Freestyle Training Center (FTC). The FTC combines the prior network of freestyle parks into a massive single freestyle center, making for the single largest summer terrain park in Timberline history. The new and improved park layout includes freestyle jumps and rails for all levels of skiers and snowboarders as well as dedicated rope tows to allow for constant lapping. The summertime FTC is open to Timberline passholders and day ticket holders (with an additional park access fee) as well as summer campers, who can progress right alongside Olympic athletes.
The summer training faculties also includes a pristine 22-foot elite competition halfpipe. The pipe is dedicated to top-tier athlete progression, with a who’s who of Olympians including Bend-based U.S. Ski Team freeskier Hunter Hess. Hess took advantage of this ideal setup to land the first-ever ski halfpipe triple cork 1620. “The dedicated pipe has added a whole new level of training for us,” Hess says. “I tried the triple cork for four or five days and got it on the final day.”
Oregonian Winter Athletes To Watch
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team coaching staff are on snow at Timberline throughout the summer alongside the athletes. Many of the coaches have close connections to Oregon, including Portland-based U.S. Olympic Ski & Snowboard Team head coach Mike Jankowski. Jankowski oversees the whole of the U.S. Snowboarding and Freeskiing programs and has been a fixture on the slopes of Timberline since 1998, when he got his start coaching at Windells Ski Camp. “The vibe at Timberline lends itself to both fun and progression,” Janowski says. “In an Olympic year, there’s more intensity, so having a training venue with fast rope tow laps and the meticulous attention to shaping and maintenance lends itself to organic peer-driven progression — you need vert on the pipe, a nice lip on the jump and a clean landing to take things to the next level.”
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team roster not surprisingly includes several Oregonians. These athletes will be competing through a series of qualifying events at the start of the 2021-22 winter in an effort to earn their place on the U.S. Olympic team in Beijing. The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 4–22, 2022, followed by the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games March 4–13, 2022.
Tommy Ford: Hailing from Bend, Ford is a member of the U.S. Alpine Ski Team competing in Giant Slalom. In 2020, Tommy had his career-best season, finishing the season ranked fifth in the world in giant slalom. He has competed in both the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Ford came up through the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation program.
Ravi Drugan: Hailing from Eugene, Drugan is a third-year member of the U.S. Paralympic Team. Drugan competes in Slalom, GS, Super G, Slalom Combined and Downhill in the sitting category in the LW12-2 classification. He got his start skiing with Oregon Adaptive Sports at Hoodoo Ski Area. See him talking about Oregon’s fight for accessibility for all.
Hunter Hess: Hailing from Bend, Hess is a member of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team competing in halfpipe. Hess came up through the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation. He’s the first skier to land a triple cork 1620 in the halfpipe.
Sean Fitzsimons: Hailing from Hood River, Fitzsimmons is a member of the U.S. Snowboard Team competing in Slopestyle. He also came up through the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation. Fitzsimmons also competes in Big Air events.
Luke Winters: Hailing from Gresham, Winters is a member of the U.S. Alpine B Ski Team competing in Slalom and Alpine Combined. Winters came up through the Mt. Hood Race Team and Academy. He was the 2019 Slalom and Alpine Combined National Champion.
Jacqueline Wiles: Hailing from Portland, Wells is a member of the U.S. Alpine B Ski Team competing in Alpine downhill. Wells joined the U.S. Ski Team in 2013, has two World Cup downhill podiums to her name and competed in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Livia Molodyh: Hailing from Hubbard, Molodyh is one of the newest members of the U.S. Snowboardcross Team in the development group. She earned second place at the 2018 Junior World Championships and has earned five NorAm Cup first-place finishes.
Read More About Oregon’s Winter Olympians
For a round up of Oregonians and Oregon-connected athletes competing in Beijing, check out the stories below:
— TravelOregon (@TravelOregon) February 4, 2022
— TravelOregon (@TravelOregon) February 4, 2022