Did You Know Mammoth Lakes Has a Condo For Elite Athletes to Stay in During Training?

On a sunny Friday afternoon in November, three members of the Adidas women’s running team are gathered around a kitchen island, chatting, one of them frying bacon.

There’s a table adjacent to the kitchen stocked with Clif bars, Shot Bloks, running magazines and notebooks (presumably filled with copious training notes). The walls are decorated with jerseys from elite athletes who came before them.

An elk antler chandelier hangs over the expansive living room. There’s an overstuffed couch, upholstered in Pendleton-style red-and-black, rustic wooden coffee tables, vintage fishing nets tacked to the knotty pine walls, and a big round dining room table—all the better to host nightly family dinners where up-and-coming stars on the world stage of competitive sports share training tips, war stories… and kale salad.

Welcome to the Mammoth Lakes Crib.

What is the Mammoth Lakes Crib?

In a resort town where crash pads can cost upwards of $200 a night, the Mammoth Lakes Crib, or simply The Crib, offers short-term accommodation for elite athletes—free of charge.

“It really was the easiest thing in the entire world,” to sign up for a stay, says cyclist Katie Hall, fresh off of a first overall victory in the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race in May 2018.

“I just emailed [the organizer], and he was like, ‘Yeah!’” says Hall. “It was super easy.”

Easy, that is, if you’re an athlete at the top of your game.

If the walls of The Crib could talk, they’d tell tales of Olympic competitors, hardcore triathletes and, now, top-tier ski mountaineers and extreme winter sportsmen and women.

The Beginnings of The Mammoth Lakes Crib

The Crib is the brainchild of Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s (MLT) Executive Director, John Urdi, and professional cyclist-turned-public relations-guru Chris Lyman. Lyman and Urdi joined forces with the unstoppable Andrew Kastor, a Mammoth Lakes resident who runs Mammoth Track Club alongside his wife, Olympic bronze medalist Deena. (The Kastors, who initially ventured to Mammoth to train, are now uber-locals.)

“Chris Lyman had lots of contacts in the professional cycling world,” says Lara Kaylor, Director of Communications at MLT. Lyman clearly saw the potential of having a primo spot for athletes to live at 8,000 feet while they trained for upcoming races and events. Thus, The Crib was born.

The Mammoth Lakes Crib 2.0

MLT initially rented a condominium for the visiting athletes, but when the program gained popularity, MLT’s directors felt it would be best if they jumped into the real estate market. So in 2018, The Crib got a permanent home when MLT purchased a condo that could be used to house athletes year-round.

And did they ever pick a winner—the newest iteration of The Crib has three bedrooms, one of which is outfitted with rustic bunk beds in a loft that overlooks the living space. There are two downstairs bedrooms, a rad deck kitted out with a BBQ grill, and the condo is located conveniently close to the town’s post office, grocery store and a couple of local favorite restaurants and bars. Plus, there are more pairs of running shoes in the hallway than you can count.

“I just feel like it has a lot of potential to really blow up,” said Kaylor of the space. MLT offers the crash pad to athletes rent-free, only asking that they rep the town of Mammoth Lakes and its potential for high-altitude living and training.

It’s not a big ask.

An Athlete’s Perspective on The Crib

“I think that you can see [The Crib] as a home and a resource,” says Olympian Alexi Pappas, who ran for Greece in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and is training for Tokyo 2020. Pappas, like the Kastors, was a Mammoth Lakes visitor and guest at The Crib who ended up becoming a full-time resident.

“The Crib opened the door for me to consider Mammoth Lakes as a home,” said Pappas. “And training in Mammoth made the biggest difference in the world for me, seriously. Not only the opportunity to train here, but also to connect with the other athletes that I met at The Crib.” Like Belgian runner Koen Naert, who roomed with Pappas during one of her stints at The Crib prior to both of the runners competing in Rio.

“It was such a gift to learn from him,” says Pappas of Naert. “When we went to the Olympics, I felt like he was a teammate.”

The best part of The Crib, says Pappas, is the sense of community it gave her—and it just continues to deliver. “I’m able to invite world-class athletes to come and stay in Mammoth Lakes,” says Pappas, “and it’s a really easy decision because of The Crib.”

For an inside look at The Crib and to follow the athletes staying there, check out The Crib on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Sarah Rea

Sarah Rea has lived in the Sierra for 20 years (eight in Yosemite and seven so far in Mammoth Lakes), but has been eating cast iron skillet pancakes for most of her life. She learned how to make soap from bacon grease when she was four and has always loved picking wild berries. She thinks…

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