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During the somber week just ended a group of youngsters, whose vigor and dedication were the embodiment of President Kennedy's ideal, completed their domestic training at Mammoth Mountain, Calif. This was the 14-member Alpine team which, under the drill-sergeant direction of Coach Bob Beattie, has formed into the most promising squad in U.S. ski history. Each day Beattie pushed them through a punishing routine of calisthenics, training-film analysis, practice in the cramping racer's crouch and, of course, some real snow skiing. This week, the team took off for Europe. As Beattie said, "All we have to do now is win at Innsbruck."

With his young racers looking trim and ready for their invasion of Europe, Coach Beattie bellows orders to members of the women's team and Bill Marolt (60) as they watch Buddy Werner pole away for a downhill run.

"We are a happy family," commented Beattie at Mammoth, "and though we have four rules [no smoking or drinking, eat three meals a day and don't fool around with the girls—or vice versa] they really aren't necessary." Indeed, they are not. Since Aug. 25, when the team first assembled, the combination of rugged physical training and the personality of Coach Beattie has created a team with a strong sense of unity and willing obedience. Beattie starts most of his orders to men and women, alike, with: "Fellows, could you do me this little favor?" and everyone does. An international star like Buddy Werner (above), who at 27 is just three years younger than the coach, carries his training through voluntary sessions of rope skipping and push-ups. A newcomer like Margo Walters (right) shortens her lunch break to take instruction in the downhill tuck, then hurries off the hill after skiing to join teammate Jean Saubert for extra calisthenics. "I've never worked so hard in my life," said Margo, "or enjoyed myself more."

As a winter wind tears at the snow of the High Sierras, America's two best racers, Buddy Werner and Jean Saubert (left), snake their way through a field of moguls. Nearby, on a trail, North American Downhill Champion Gordy Eaton (right) displays the form that may win Olympic medals for the U.S. Before gold can be collected in the Alps, however, the American racers face two months of arduous practice abroad. In Val d'Is√®re France this week they will begin the last phase of their prerace training. Then they will move on to Switzerland, Germany and Austria for a schedule of warmup races. Finally, on Jan. 29 at Innsbruck, they will try to fulfill their own personal promise—and Coach Beattie's avowed mission of making America the best Alpine skiing nation in the world. "We thought we were the best-conditioned team two years ago at the world championships, " Beattie said, "but today we are 25% tougher and still improving."