ALTA BADIA, Italy - Bode Miller has been talking for years about the benefits of eating the right food at the right times while traveling the World Cup circuit in Europe.
Now the U.S. Ski Team has come to the same conclusion, and the squad's mobile nutrition center - more affectionately known as the "mobile lunch box" - made its debut last weekend at races in the Italian Dolomites.
"The hotels we stay at do a fantastic job at giving us great-tasting food, but it's not necessarily the right combination of carbohydrates and protein that we need," U.S. men's coach Sasha Rearick said.
With the help of United States Olympic Committee nutritionist and chef Adam Korzun and a trailer featuring a fully equipped kitchen capable of producing enough food for 150 people, the problem is solved.
So far, Korzun has been cooking up a heavy dose of Mexican food, such as chicken burritos, steak fajitas and quesadillas.
"It's one of the things they really can't get over here while they're traveling in Europe," Korzun said. "It's a good taste of home for them."
The debut meal the night before the famed Gran Risa giant slalom was pulled pork.
"I cooked it for 71/2 hours," Korzun said. "So it smelled nice in here yesterday."
Once he gets the burners going, it also serves to warm up the trailer. The temperature in Badia hovered at minus-4 degrees for several days and all Korzun has to keep warm are two tiny space heaters.
But the trailer has everything a chef might need, and even some extras, since it's supplied by the team's in-season training base in nearby Paganella.
"Because it's from an Italian company, we've got a pasta cooker here, so that's an added bonus," Korzun said.
But being in Italy has also made some athletes wonder if the nutrition center is necessary.
"I don't think I'll be using it too much," downhill captain Marco Sullivan said. "There's a few stops where it might be nice, but not in Italy."
The Americans often stay in the same hotel at certain races for years. The host at the Hotel Alpino Plan in Val Gardena is practically an honorary member of the team, making sure the racers are treated to the best culinary delights the Alto Adige region has to offer.
The nutrition center isn't meant to replace the hotels' fare, though. It's supposed to provide something extra - both at dinner and at various points throughout the day, such as in between runs of slalom races.
"Like tonight they'll have the main dinner up there but they'll also have these quesadillas to give them something extra, to give them more volume, more calories, more protein," Korzun said.
"They have structured meal times at hotels, but they don't necessarily coincide with training and race day, so I'll get up early and help guys that need special orders for breakfast or recovery when they get off the hill," Korzun added.
"A lot of them just got done working out now and we don't eat for another 21/2 hours, so I'm making sure there's recovery snacks like smoothies and shakes and sandwiches and things like that."
The nutrition center's debut coincides with Miller's return to the team after two years of racing and training on his own. Miller even ditched his own personal mobile home for the recent races in Italy to try out Korzun's cooking.
Korzun will also cook for the Americans at the Feb. 12-28 Vancouver Olympics. The U.S. skiers - both men and women - will stay in off-site condominiums at the Alpine venue in Whistler.
When the Americans stayed in the Athletes' Village at the 2006 Turin Games, Resi Stiegler made headlines for likening the cuisine to "cat food." As a result, many of the skiers started trudging up the road to eat inside Julia Mancuso's personal bus - and Miller also had his RV in Sestriere.
The condos should provide more of the controlled and family atmosphere that the team is accustomed to. Rearick said the idea is to "try to eliminate the stress so that guys can focus on performing."
So who's the team's biggest eater?
"Tommy Ford really puts away some food," Korzun said, referring to the rookie from Bend, Ore.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but Ford earned his first World Cup points in Badia with a 24th-place giant slalom finish.