Kerr agrees to partnership with Alpine |

Kerr agrees to partnership with Alpine

Sylas Wright

Coach Raul Guisado stood with a watchful eye, his face shaded by a large brimmed hat as he spoke soft words of instruction to his student in training.

Donning black Adidas shorts and a matching Porters Tahoe T-shirt, Truckee skicross racer Errol Kerr gripped the “pumpkin” at Guisado’s request, sweat dripping from his brow, and hopped on one foot through each square of the horizontal ladder laid out on the grass.

Kerr’s voluntary training partner, Scott Horn, followed suit, mirroring his buddy’s movement under a cloudless sky at the base of Alpine Meadows.

“All right,” Guisado said. “With the pumpkin, one foot, every other square.”

The “pumpkin” was a bright orange 5-kilogram medicine ball, the flimsy ladder a device Guisado uses to sharpen ski racers’ coordination and agility. Other training contraptions included foam cylinders on which to balance, a round of wood for leaping purposes and a waist strap that translates to “ballistic power” when Guisado holds back a sprint.

It’s all part of the Jamaica Ski Team’s dryland training regimen.

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Kerr and Guisado – a longtime Far West and U.S. Ski Team coach from Tahoe City – are the Jamaica Ski Team, and Alpine Meadows is their home base.

“This is our official training center,” the 22-year-old Kerr said of Alpine, which announced a two-year partnership with the Olympic hopeful last week. “They’re giving me the training opportunity I haven’t been able to have. That’s why this partnership is awesome. They see my dream, and they’re willing to help me reach my potential. Through Alpine, I’ll have the resources I need to reach the top.”

Kerr, a dual citizen of the United States and Jamaica, will represent the island nation in World Cup skicross competition leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C., when the event makes its Olympic debut. Kerr is ranked 24th in the world after an impressive rookie season.

“This particular athlete struck us as the right one because he’s local – which is our mission, to be a community-oriented ski hill – and because he’s going to the 2010 Olympics and we’re excited to be a part of that challenge,” said Deanna Gescheider, director of marketing at Alpine Meadows and Homewood. “We’re committed to making a training ground that will help him get to the Olympics.”

That means building skicross-specific jumps to accompany rollers and banked curves that replicate those used in competition, Kerr said. A full-on skicross course is not likely, according to Kerr, who will be on the road much of the time anyway. He expects to average about six days a month at Alpine Meadows this winter while competing in about a dozen skicross events across the globe.

A Far West skier since he was 11, Kerr will also train in Giant Slalom and super G, while taking advantage of Alpine’s natural terrain to help polish his skicross skills. After all, few resorts boast such an array of terrain.

“Skicross is parallel to our brand because Alpine is known for its terrain,” Gescheider said.

In return for the resort’s efforts, Kerr will make appearances at Alpine Meadows ski camps, create Web videos and blogs, and support events at Alpine throughout the winter and over the next two years.

Citing a desire to honor his father, Kerr gained International Ski Federation approval early this past summer to ski for Jamaica. He made a trip to his father’s homeland during the spring to drum up support for the Jamaica Ski Team, and he plans to return to the island Oct. 19 to “round up more sponsors down there.”

While Kerr remains the island nation’s only member, the Jamaican team will likely gain a second member in Great Britain’s Gregg Samuels, according to Guisado. While Guisado said Samuels will train with the team, the International Ski Federation may not grant him the eligibility to represent Jamaica until next season.

“We’re pretty excited to have two guys with potential in one event,” said Guisado, adding that he expects Samuels to train with the team from Nov. 1 through March.