Much like week one of the Sochi Winter Olympics, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s 12 current and alumni athletes competing in the Games continued to exhibit their character, courage and commitment.
All eyes were on the men and women Olympians of the ski halfpipe in Sochi as they represented their sport in its Olympic debut. Elana Chase, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s freeski program director, was there to witness four of her athletes, three current and one alumnus:
Aaron Blunck — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail current athlete and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy senior, representing the U.S.
Adam Crook — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy alumnus, representing the British Virgin Islands
Annalisa Drew — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail current athlete, representing the U.S.
Anais Caradeux — Ski & Snowboard Club Vail current athlete, representing France
Each had their own unique journey on their Olympic debut day. Aaron Blunck reflected in the USSA News after his final run that it was the most nerve-wracking time in his life, just sitting there up top in silence. He clearly dug deep, under less than ideal snow and weather conditions, to take a remarkable seventh place finish.
Anais Caradeux took 9th in the qualifiers, moving her on to the finals where she took a terrible spill in the first run. She was eventually able to stand on her own accord and ski down the pipe, refusing the sled and medical team that stood nearby to assist her.
Annalisa Drew took 11th in the qualifier round and a fantastic 9th overall in her debut. Her progression over the years in the sport of freeskiing is truly reflective of her commitment.
Adam Crook was the first winter Olympic athlete to compete for the British Virgin Islands in 30 years. To realize his dream of skiing in the Olympics, Adam moved to Colorado to train at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and attended Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. Adam and his parents formed the British Virgin Islands Ski Association, a requirement for him to enter the World Cup events needed to make the Olympics. His results are clearly secondary to the significance of this journey.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Nordic athlete Noah Hoffman shared that he was having a great time in Sochi with his last race on Sunday. Much like the demands of his sport, he continues to maintain his focus from start to finish at the Olympics.
Ski cross alumnus Chris Del Bosco gave it his all, but was unable to advance to the quarter finals. Although I have not had the opportunity to speak with Chris, it was not surprising to find him quoted as saying, “I will finish off the year and if I am healthy and competitive, then I will carry on. It is a small window you have. I love doing what I do.”
The final Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Olympian to perform in Sochi was alumna Mikaela Shiffrin. And what a performance it was, winning GOLD in the ladies slalom, having taken fifth in the giant slalom a few days earlier. As the current World Champion and odds-on favorite in the slalom, the expectations on Mikaela were overwhelming. Anything less than a gold medal would have been a disappointment. Seeing her smiling in the start area before taking her second slalom run was a good indicator of her preparedness to meet those expectations. In winning gold, Mikaela became the youngest Olympic slalom champion ever! It will be incredible to watch what the next four years and the Olympics of 2018 in Korea will bring.
It is amazing to watch the journey of these Olympic athletes, and to realize all they have achieved and the potential still ahead of them. We are so very proud at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail to have been part of each of their Olympic journeys. Even more, we are proud of how each of them represented themselves, their sport and our community on the Olympic stage.