August 7, 2013
The U.S. women’s cross-country ski team has never won an Olympic medal. But that could change in Sochi, Russia, in February. The team has a secret weapon: a pristine glacier high above the mountains of Anchorage.
On the ground, it’s summer. But as soon as the helicopter crests the mountain: winter. The snowy white Eagle Glacier stretches out for miles, rimmed by rocky peaks.
Alaska Pacific University runs training camps on the glacier every summer for its Olympic development team and other elite cross-country skiers. The athletes spend a week at a time on the glacier, sleeping and eating in a dorm that sits on shale rock just beyond the snow. They put in long hours skiing each day.
Coach Erik Flora stands at the edge of the course, offering pointers to skiers during a practice speed relay. He yells “go, go, go, go!” as the skiers begin to practice.