Ski and Snowboard Club Vail freeskier Schuiling ready to burst onto pro scene
Special to the Daily
VAIL — Sammy Schuiling is a kid on the rise in more ways than one.
At the U.S. Revolution Tour at Waterville Valley, New Hampshire, Schuiling skied to his career-best slopestyle results, fifth and seventh, in a pair of contests held in the White Mountains. The Rev Tour, as it is commonly called, is the second-tier freeskiing tour in North America, equivalent basically to the NorAm circuit, which feeds into the World Cup.
Schuiling, a 16-year-old athlete at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and student at Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy, has been rapidly ascending the world rankings of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals. He is now sixth in the world for juniors and 16th overall.
The trick of the week for Schuiling was a switch misty 900, which he stomped right in front of the judges and made the difference in his scoring.
“I was able to really work more on my rails this fall,” said Schuiling. “That really helped my overall scores. Jumping has always been my stronger suit. I was able to put together a jump line that was different than everyone else’s, so that really worked to my advantage.”
Schuiling’s slopestyle results at Waterville Valley this week were on par with some of his top finishes in the halfpipe, which had been his stronger event. In light of this recent performance in particular, he is not currently planning to specialize one way or another.
“Right now, I’m kind of at an even spot for both slope and pipe,” Schuiling said. “I’m trying to maintain strong results in both disciplines. My goal would be to make professional-level competitions in both.”
Half of that goal has already been achieved.
Schuiling qualified for his first World Cup in December, the U.S. Grand Prix held at Copper Mountain, a halfpipe event featuring many of the world’s best freeskiers. He finished a bittersweet 14th in that event — bittersweet because it was an outstanding finish at the professional level, but unfortunately it was two spots outside finals qualification.
Schuiling has secured an alternate spot at the Grand Prix on Mammoth Mountain in California early next month, which will serve as the first Olympic qualifier. Mature beyond his years, Schuiling is realistic about his prospects for the 2018 Olympics, but there’s no need to rule it out.
“I definitely want to go to the Olympics at some point,” Schuiling said. “At this point, I don’t think qualifying for 2018 is very realistic. I’ll be 17 and not quite at that level of competition. But I think if I keep progressing the way I have, I’ve got a good shot at Beijing in 2022. That’s the one I’m shooting for.”
Schuiling is excelling off the hill, as well, maintaining a high grade point average at VSSA and winning SSCV’s Character, Courage and Commitment Award for the month of November.
“It is no mystery why Sammy has been accelerating up the AFP rankings. His work ethic is unmatched. This same level of passion exists in his studies where he has aggressive goals for college acceptances and is likely to get there with his relentless effort to improve,” said Geoff Grimmer, VSSA head of school. “I have encountered very few student-athletes who uphold both sides of that term — student and athlete — with equivalent zeal.”
Schuiling is a Telluride native. He and his family moved to Steamboat Springs when he was 10 and not long after transferred to Vail to take advantage of SSCV’s freeskiing program led by Elana Chase and attend VSSA in Minturn.
“These last two competition results show that Sammy’s hard work is starting to pay off,” Chase said. “Qualifying for the finals on both days at the first big slopestyle competitions of the year builds confidence. And his consistency in finals shows he has staying power. With a few more results like that, we can start helping Sammy hit the podium.”
Geoff Mintz is communications manager for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
The ski racer turned hotelier who was close to President Ford embodied the soul of Vail for nearly 60 years.