Freestyler tabbed by national magazine |

Freestyler tabbed by national magazine

Local freestyle skier Tess Johnson is one of Sports Illustrated for Kids November Sports Kids.

EDWARDS – A freestyle star was named a Sports Illustrated’s Sports Kid, and looked adorable doing it.

Tess Johnson is one of the magazine’s November Sports Kids for her work in both athletics and academics. Tess skis for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s freestyle team and is a sixth-grader at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy.

Last winter, she was the top skier in the Rocky Mountain Freestyle Devo Series in her age group, 6-13. Johgnson entered seven events, and earned seven wins, capped by the mogul championships in Telluride last March.

Her mom threw Tess’s hat in the Sports Kid ring after last ski season. It’s pretty simple. She filled out a form on the Sports Illustrated website, about 200 words outlining Tess’s athletic and academic accomplishments.

“I told Tess we did it because we were so proud of her,” Carol said.

They hit the “submit” button and didn’t think much more about it.

“We’d pretty much forgotten about it,” Carol said.

Sports Illustrated called in September to tell them Tess was a finalist.

Sports Illustrated photographer Garrett Elwood arrived at the Johnson home on a gorgeous autumn day for a photo shoot, which they moved to the garage where they could simulate winter.

“He brought all kinds of equipment and a lot of fake snow that my mom had to dump on me,” Tess said.

Dumping fake snow on your daughter is more exact than one might imagine. Eventually, they settled on sifting it over her using an old campaign sign they had.

“It took two hours. First there was too much snow, then too little snow,” Tess said.

The result, as you can see, was picture perfect.

“We were having winterfest in our garage,” Carol said.

She eligible to ski Devo a couple more years. Her coaches, Mike Friedberg, SSCV freestyle drector and John Grigsby, freestyle devo head coach, decided to move her to a higher division where she’s competing against skiers up to 20-year-olds.

“Some are a lot older than me,” Tess said.

But, so far so good.

In December, she competed in her new division when the competition season opened in Winter Park. The runs are steeper, the jumps higher and there are two instead of one, and it’s a timed event.

Of the 35 competitors in Winter Park, she finished in the top half.

There are nationals at the end of the season. If she piles up enough points she gets to go.

In the meantime, she says she likes school, especially Spanish and math. When she’s not skiing she plays soccer with the Vail Valley Soccer Club, which her mom helps run.

Then there’s the science project. She’s testing to see if different foundations will help houses not be destroyed by earthquakes. Her dad’s helping.

“I’m pretty busy,” she said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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