Local athletes impressive before Sochi
January 28, 2014
VAIL — Ski & Snowboard Academy class of 2011 graduate Faye Gulini is the latest in a long list of athletes with local ties who have made the 2014 Olympic team.
Gulini was officially announced along with the rest of the athletes competing in snowboardcross on Saturday; it will be her second Olympics. She is one of 10 confirmed Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes and alum who will be competing in Sochi.
"I think that program set me up for where I am right now," she said Sunday. "And definitely for the 2010 winter Olympics, as well."
Gulini is among a handful of athletes who have trained under program director Ben Boyd, who heads to Sochi on Wednesday.
Boyd saw Gulini compete at the Sochi Games test event last season and said the course plays well to her strengths.
"It's a really good track for her … there's a lot of jumps, and she's an incredible jumper," he said.
Boyd said while most of his time will be spent with the national team from his native Australia, he's happy to be going among such a large team from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
"It will be great to be there with everyone," he said. "And we're hoping to have our halfpipe coach, Elijah Teter, there as well."
Teter spent the weekend in Aspen with Ski & Snowboard Club star halfpipe snowboarder Kaitlyn Farrington, who took the bronze on Saturday with an impressive run.
"Her back 900 is comparable to the (pro men's) back 9s," Teter said.
Teter said the X Games were a tune-up for Farrington's runs in Sochi.
"It's a bonus that (Farrington) got a great result," he said.
Along with Ayumu Hirano, of Japan, and Stephanie Magiros, of Australia, Farrington is one of three members Ski & Snowboard Club Vail's halfpipe snowboarding squad scheduled to compete at the games. Teter's sister Hannah also qualified, for a total of four athletes whom Teter feels he could help by being there.
"We're hoping to know for sure very soon," Boyd said.
And while Teter and Farrington were at the X Games to practice for Sochi, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail ski halfpiper Alex Ferreira was there for glory.
Ferreira narrowly missed the Olympic team. Among those selected were two of the Aspen native's best friends Aaron Blunck, of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, and fellow Aspen native Torin Yater-Wallace.
Ferreira's coach, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freeski program director Elana Chase, said with tricks no one else is doing — including a "double Michalchuk" 1080-degree spin with two flips — the 19-year-old is poised for big things.
"He's one of the most courageous athletes I've ever worked with," she said.
At the first Olympic qualifier of the season, Ferreira's ski came loose from the binding on the second to last jump of his run.
"He did the jump anyway, perfectly, knowing the ski was going to fly off in the air," Chase said. "He knew he had to land with one foot, so he did. You couldn't even tell the ski came off."
On Friday, Ferreira had no such errors, stomping a difficult run to make the podium for bronze against a tough field of Olympians at X Games. Ferreira was the only person at the Friday night finals who isn't scheduled to compete in Sochi.
Of the four male ski halfpipe athletes going to the Olympics for the U.S., all except Lyman Currier have worked with Chase at some point in their careers.
On the female side, Olympic halfpipe skier Annalisa Drew is currently living in Vail and a member of the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail program because of Chase.
"She's the reason I don't feel like I have to go with Anna to every single competition," said Drew's mother, Lisa. "Meeting her was the best thing that could have ever happened to my daughter for her progression in the sport of skiing."
Staff Writer John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and email@example.com
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