Vail Daily column: Freestyle program sets the bar high
It has been an exciting year for the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freestyle program, enjoying successes at every level, under the leadership of Program Director John Dowling. At the end of last season, two Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes were nominated to the women’s U.S. Freestyle Moguls A Team, one athlete was nominated to the men’s U.S. Freestyle Moguls B Team, one athlete was nominated to the Women’s U.S. Freestyle Moguls C Team and one male and one female athlete were nominated to the U.S. Freestyle D Team.
At the International Ski Federation level, an athlete was named FIS World Cup Mogul Rookie of the Year, a female athlete won a World Cup, and a male athlete took silver at the Deer Valley World Cup taking the highest World Cup finish by a U.S. male mogul skier in 2015. Four athletes were named to the Junior World Team (out of a total of eight U.S. athletes named to the team) with one athlete bringing home a medal.
At the national (USSA) level, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail had the Women’s Junior National Moguls Champion and Men’s Junior National Dual Moguls Champion. The Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Freestyle Team also won six out of eight Division Cups, had 11 overall winners in Rocky Mountain Freestyle events and six athletes named to the U.S. Young Guns Team.
Among the youngest of our freestyle athletes last season, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail had a men’s Rocky Qualifier Series winner at Winter Park and the Vail Rocky Qualifier Series overall winner.
The club is fortunate that all of our freestyle coaching staff has returned to Ski & Snowboard Club Vail this season-a testament to one of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s major initiatives-to attract and retain great coaches. Among the returning staff are John Kust, Riley Campbell and Hans Gardner.
John recently moved his family to the Vail Valley from the front range so his four sons could join the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail full-time freestyle program and attend Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Academic Partner Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. With this move comes John’s ability to take on added coaching responsibilities mid-week working with pre-academy athletes.
Riley Campbell, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freestyle coach for NorAm level athletes, faced the difficult decision before the start of this season whether to remain with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail or accept a coaching position with the US Freestyle Team. Riley ultimately chose to stay with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, valuing his role in our local community and reflecting his commitment to the athletes.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail is very fortunate to be one of the few freestyle programs in the nation with a dedicated aerials coach-Hans Gardner. Hans leads all freestyle trampoline sessions and is also involved with coaching at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freestyle water ramp camps as well as doing on-hill aerials work. Hans’ coaching brings athletes through an appropriate progression, enabling them to successfully execute their aerial moves on snow.
Vail Pro Mogul Event
Excitement is building for the inaugural Kaiser Permanente Vail Pro Mogul event being hosted by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail on Jan. 8-10. Not only will this event give everyone in the community a better awareness of the sport, but it will also provide for broad-based participation and several exciting spectator opportunities. After a Friday training day, pro moguls athletes (ages 15-plus) will compete Saturday on a FIS course in a single mogul format qualification round for men and women, with the top 16 competing in a duals format in finals. On Sunday, masters mogul competitors (ages 30-plus) will compete on a natural moguls course (no inverted aerials allowed) in a single mogul format qualification for men and women with the top 16 competing in a duals format finals. It is sure to be a fun-filled weekend with old school and new school moguls athletes gathering to show off their talents while vying for a piece of the cash purse and taking part in a number of off-snow festivities. Register at http://llarge.wix.com/vail promogul .
Athletes Hard at Work
Among the many hard working mogul skiers, two athletes come to mind for an incredible commitment to their sport during the off-season. Kaitlyn Harrell, an 18-year-old post-graduate athlete, is returning to snow after a back injury that sidelined her for the entire 2014-15 season. Two years ago, Kaitlyn took second and third in Junior Worlds among the top junior moguls athletes in the world.
After her initial return to snow this summer at an SSCV camp in Chile, she has been working hard in the gym and is seen coming back into form during her early season training.
Ninth-grader Teddy Kust recently moved to the Vail Valley with his family from the front range to join the full-time freestyle program and enroll in VSSA. He attended a number of water ramp camps in the off-season where he qualified his flip for competition on snow.
A gymnast who combines his acrobatic training with his on-snow training, Teddy has gotten a taste of what it means to be a full-time athlete attending VSSA, working hard and thriving in his new environment.
It will be an exciting season to watch our freestyle athletes continue to develop their character, courage and commitment both on snow and off under the watchful eye of John Dowling and his nationally renowned coaching staff.