Ramone Cooper - World Cup Skier, Olympic Winter Institute of Australia

Ramone Cooper
'Our training calendar is divided into two, with the Australian ski season lasting for three months and the Northern Hemisphere season lasting for five months.'

Ramone, 20, spends his time freestyle skiing with the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia (OWI). One of only two freestyle skiers in the Australian World Cup team, Ramone has been part of the OWI, a partnership program of the Australian Institute of Sport, for two years and the New South Wales Institute of Sport for five years. After finishing eighth at the 2008 United States Skiing World Cup at Lake Placid, Ramone is back in Australia preparing for the 2010 Olympic trials at the end of 2008.


 

How did you begin your career?

I was first exposed to freestyle mogul skiing when my family moved to the Snowy Mountains from the Hunter Valley in 1995. With talented local athletes to look up to, my passion for skiing steered towards the freestyle disciplines, especially moguls. I joined the local ski club when I was 10 and worked my way up the pathway by winning competitions.

FYI Mogul skiing is a type of freestyle skiing where the skier passes through a series of bumps, known as moguls, and jumps.

What is your training program like?

Our training calendar is divided into two, with the Australian ski season lasting for three months and the Northern Hemisphere season lasting for five months. When we're training in the ski season, we ski for five hours in the morning; then come home and do video analysis of the day's training. We finish off with a two-hour gym session in the afternoon. We complete that cycle three days in a row followed by one day off and repeat that cycle for as long as the season goes. However, we normally taper our training down leading into an event so we're in the best physical condition on the competition day.

When we're training off-season, we're at the gym five or six days a week for a couple of hours. Our training consists of strength building, plyometric training, and energy system training, mainly focusing on the lactic acid system. Training is intense, and it can be a challenge to manage a life outside of skiing!

FYI Plyometric training is a form of power training designed to produce fast, powerful movements.

What do you do to chill out?

It depends how hard the day has been. If it's been a tough day I conk out and watch a DVD or play cards with friends. In the off-season I love to play golf and chill out at the lake. I've finished school now, but when I was attending school I managed to squeeze all my study into the short rest periods in between training sessions.

How did you balance skiing and studying when you were at school?

Up until Year 11, I studied during school time and committed to skiing out of school hours. But midway through Year 11, I began distance education and studied through correspondence so that I could concentrate more on my skiing. When Year 12 began, I began the HSC Pathways scheme, which breaks the final year of the HSC into two years so I had time for both skiing and school.

What are the perks of your job?

I spend a lot of time overseas as a world cup skier, so one of the perks is travelling for six months a year – meeting lots of amazing people and experiencing different cultures in the countries I visit. I also take great pride in competing for my country.

What challenges do you encounter?

Mogul skiing is a very high-impact sport, which can have serious consequences. Managing injuries is always a challenge, but we have a great team behind us working to keep us in the best shape we can be. If I'm not skiing well, or I'm facing injury woes, trying to balance my school or work commitments with training can become mentally draining.

What keeps you going in moments of doubt?

It's important to have a positive outlook, and to be confident in your abilities. Everyone competing shares a similar passion and dream and with that comes a mutual respect which I can gain confidence from in times of doubt. There's always an exciting atmosphere surrounding competitions so it's hard to get down sometimes. I set myself little goals all the time so that, as I achieve them, I can get closer to my end goal.

What is your goal for the future?

My ultimate goal is to be successful at the 2010 Olympics. We have a great program in place   my only other team mate, Dale Begg-Smith, won gold at the 2006 Olympics, and my Coach, Steve Desovich, is often regarded as the 'best coach in the world'. So I am looking forward to a fast recovery from recent knee surgery, and achieving more top 10 results in World Cup events next season leading into the Olympics.

How do you get into the Olympics?

We have to meet qualification criteria for this coming Northern Hemisphere season. Our first World Cup is in December 2008 and our last one is in March 2009. In between we have 11 competitions to meet the qualification criteria. Although the criteria has not been officially approved by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) yet, it will involve an accumulation of International Ski Federation (FIS) World Cup points. Points are gained from 'top 30' World Cup Competition finishes.

How do you prepare yourself before a competition?

Prior to competition we generally have two days of training which we use to become familiar with the bumps and jumps on the course. In that time, we decide which course we will ski, what jumps to perform and the technique we need to get through certain areas. My discipline   freestyle mogul skiing   lasts around 24 seconds and in that time I travel 250 metres of moguls and do two inverted jumps. A split second mistake can make a big difference so it's important that I know the course backwards, practise mental rehearsals and visualisation, and do a vigorous physical warm up.

Will you stay in the ski industry?

I see myself working in the ski industry even after I finish skiing competitively. Mogul skiing is such a high-impact sport that, as an athlete, the body can only last for so long. There's not many people skiing at the elite level who are older than 30. The skiing community is so great to be involved in, and I get great satisfaction from coaching and from helping the sport progress in Australia. I plan to start studying sports management and coaching science courses at university next year, so, once I finish skiing World Cup, I would love to remain involved in that capacity.




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