For competitive skiers it is important to practice, maintain and improve upon technical skills, even in the warm summer months. This, for the Alaska Pacific University Nordic Ski Team (APU) and head coach Erik Flora, means finding snow to ski on. Eagle Glacier, nestled 6,000 feet straight up from Girdwood, Alaska has become that source of snow. To create the necessary world class surface for these athletes to train on, a PistenBully 100 is flown piece-by-piece to the glacier, reassembled and put to work for seven training camps during the Alaskan summer.
Erik Flora, 2013 recipient of the United States Olympic Committee’s Coach of the Year Award has his work cut out for him when he is on Eagle Glacier. Not only is Flora coaching full time, but he also performs most of the grooming and groomer maintenance. A former A/P Aircraft mechanic, Mr. Flora has learned how to work on a PistenBully, which he dubs „amazing machines.“ Flora and two other APU staff members prepare 10 kilometers of Olympic level track every day. APU athlete, Eric Packer described his coach taking the PistenBully 100 out twice a day to make sure that athletes had freshly groomed trails for each ski. He recalls that „Even with three feet of fresh snow over the course of a week (in June), the track was consistently firm and made for great training.“
Many of Flora’s athletes have either competed on an Olympic Team or are in strong contention to do so. His most recognizable athlete is undoubtedly Kikkan Randall, winner of the overall World Cup Sprint title and recipient of the Crystal Globe Award three years in a row. It is important for these athletes to practice on surfaces similar to those that they will be competing on at the World Cup and Olympic level.
The Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug AG is proud to have passionate operators such as Erik Flora driving its machines and wishes the best of luck to the APU and US National Nordic Ski Team this coming season!
You can read the complete interview with Erik Flora here.