Excel looking ahead to season three

The start of the 3rd season for Excel began with our second summer camp to Bormio. Always a favourite with staff and athletes and, unlike the rest of 2020, it didn’t disappoint. We had 19 athletes, a mixture of the Childrens and FIS teams, and 5 staff on the camp.

Starting out from Heathrow the whole team travelled together with branded Excel face masks! A definite hit with the athletes (although they might disagree). Landing in Munich, with a quick stop at base in Weising to load the Vans with all the kit we drove on to Bormio.

Straight into training bright and early the next morning the hard work began. The first lift is 06:40 which is one of many reasons for training in Stelvio as it allows us to be skiing by 7am to make use of the best snow. Knowing we had a three week camp ahead of us and that we had not skied for four months we started off slow, working on balance and position in free skiing before ramping things up towards technical drill courses, stubbies, pro slalom and then finally full gates once we were happy with the athletes foundations and confidence.

Off the hill the hard work, and fun, continued. Most of the team had bikes and hit the cycling hard. Competitive as ever, especially between coaches and athletes, the ascents began. A few local warm up rides leading to the big one, Stelvio, 1650m of vertical over 21KM’s. The team set off in their small groups with everyone set to ride their own pace. Perfect weather at the start, and at the finish, for the first half of the group, but for the second half they had to battle wind, rain, and eventually hail as they reached the top. The whole team were out to cheer them over the line. What stood out was the outstanding sense of team spirit and pride that the athletes had in every other member of the team achieving their individual best. Great to see and build on going forward.

The cycling continued throughout the camp as our main form of cardiovascular training, in our view the fun, freedom and sense of adventure that you get from cycling is exactly what we want our athletes to enjoy. On the fitness side there are the clear endurance and power benefits of riding a bike but equally important is the ability to overcome the mental and physical pain that you experience at time while riding hard in the alps.

On more relaxed afternoons we worked on stretching, core and lifting with regular recovery dips in the icy river nearby. Volleyball became our new favourite sport. Starting out looking like the most uncoordinated bunch of goons ever to set foot on a volleyball court we stuck with it and played regularly, eventually getting pretty good and as ever very competitive! Only once did a team lose a game without scoring a point and their forfeit was a short, steep slightly humiliating run. Never happened again!

On days off we made use of the natural hot springs, terme, local hikes, manhunt on mass and a great day out at Lake Como with kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming and chilling out.

It was great to welcome 2 new athletes to the team, one of whom came over from Hong Kong to experience what Excel have to offer. Hopefully they'll be back for more.

Overall by far the best camp Excel has had both from a training point of view but also from the much improved sense of ‘team’ atmosphere that is now embedded in everything we do. The attitude, motivation, fun and banter was at an all time high and we look forward to carrying this forward as we continue with the season ahead.

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