SSCV’s Morgan Schild named World Cup moguls Rookie of the Year | VailDaily.com

SSCV’s Morgan Schild named World Cup moguls Rookie of the Year

VAIL — After joining Ski and Snowboard Club Vail last season, 17-year-old Morgan Schild is off to an impressive start as a World Cup moguls skier.

Her first taste of the top level of competition came last year with World Cup finals in La Plagne, France, which she qualified to participate in by becoming the overall winner of the North America Cup.

"This year … the pressure was on me to prove to my coaches that I was ready to be at the World Cup level," she said.

And prove herself, she has. In her first six World Cup starts, she notched three top-10 finishes including a win at a dual moguls event in Japan on March 1.

"There was a range of course conditions and tough dual match ups," Schild said of the event.

In dual moguls, competitors race head-to-head, so whom a skier is matched up against in the early rounds can make a big difference in how tough the battle for and at finals will be. In an early round, Schild was matched up against the Olympic gold medalist from 2014, Justine Dufour-Lapointe.

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"I was shaking with nerves," Schild said of the match up. "Winning that dual gave me the confidence to win all my duals for the World Cup win."

Satsuki Ito, of Japan, finished second and American moguls superstar Hannah Kearney finished third.

"Standing on the podium with my idol, the legendary Hannah Kearney, will be an experience I will forever cherish," Schild said. "Being her teammate for a season was an honor in itself."

As a result of her impressive first season, Schild was awarded the International Ski Federation's World Cup Women's Moguls Rookie of the Year award.

"I got a nice big shiny trophy cup," she said. "I'm pretty excited about it."

OUT NEXT SEASON

Unfortunately, though, Schild's momentum will have to skid to a stop for now, as she ended the season with a knee injury — ACL and meniscus — at the FIS-Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships in Italy this past week. She will need a surgery and will be sidelined for a year.

"I wish I could have kept it going through next season, but maybe taking a year off is for the best," she said.

Her optimism prevails for good reason as Schild has a bright future — she's one of the only athletes who can perform a cork 720 in competition and has the speed to back it up, as well.

"Morgan is doing big jumps, as big as the guys," said head moguls coach Garth Hager. "The judges recognize that she's jumping very well and skiing fast. She doesn't even question it, she just goes."

Schild said Ski & Snowboard Club Vail moguls coach John Dowling was one of the big reasons she moved over to the Rocky Mountains from the East Coast two years ago, along with successful athletes in the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freestyle program such as Dylan Walczyk and Heidi Kloser. Kloser was also the winner of the International Ski Federation's World Cup Women's Moguls Rookie of the Year award, in 2010.

"It was pretty cool to train with her," Schild says of her early experiences at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

Now dealing with a hurt knee, Schild is once again getting inspiration from Kloser, who sustained a similar injury at the 2014 Olympics.

"I was amazing how quickly she came back," Schild said. "It's definitely inspiring."

Schild has also discussed her injury with Kearney.

"After her knee injury she had the best season of her life," Schild said of Kearney.

Supporting Other Kids

While she was sent to the U.S. team headquarters in Park City, Utah, to plan her next move after the injury, Schild found herself alone in Utah with nothing to do for the weekend.

"I decided to drive from Park City to Steamboat to cheer on the athletes competing there," she said Saturday. "I wanted to come out and say hello instead of sitting in Park City."

The U.S. Freestyle Championships in Steamboat showcased the best of what the next generation of moguls skiers in the U.S. has to offer.

"It's pretty cool to see a 14-year-old throw higher degree of difficulty trick than I have," Schild said.

Forced to watch from the sidelines, Schild said she wasn't really feeling the itch to get on the course.

"I know I have time in the sport in front of me, so I'm not really worried about it," she said. "I'm really happy with what I did this year.

"I am optimistic about how far I can push myself and the women's side of the sport," Schild added. "I did not expect to win a World Cup before I graduated high school. Japan had this surreal feeling that excites me to see what the future has in store."