Tess Johnson, 15, qualifies for World Cup start
VAIL — Tess Johnson’s coach told her that once she makes it to the U.S. Ski Team, the hard part really begins.
The 15-year-old moguls skier from Edwards did more than listen to those words — she proved them true, qualifying for the top level of competition in one of her very first acts as a member of the team.
After an impressive performance at the U.S. freestyle team selections event in December, Tess Johnson earned herself starts at two World Cup stops this season, but the first one was canceled due to lack of snow.
She is now scheduled to make her first World Cup start at the Visa Freestyle International in Deer Valley, Utah, on Thursday.
LONG WAY TO GO
Sometimes there’s a mentality that when you make the U.S. Ski Team, you’ve really made it, says Ski & Snowboard Club Vail moguls coach Riley Campbell, who has worked with Johnson for the past four years.
“And then you see athletes really go flat,” he said. “I think (Johnson) is aware that there’s a long way to go.”
Tess Johnson literally has to go a long way back and forth between here and Utah to train at the level for which she has qualified. She spent several weeks in December and January training on the Deer Valley course and at the U.S. Ski Team’s home base in the Center of Excellence in Park City, and is now back home in Eagle County training with Campbell and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
“We’re definitely in a transition period,” said Carol Johnson, Tess’ mother. “I was with her for a week in Park City, I was glad I was able to do that. And now she’s back home, so we’re really psyched to have her back.”
Carol Johnson said the U.S. Ski Team realizes it’s a challenge with an athlete as young as Tess, and has been accommodating.
“Tess’ coach, Caleb Martin, has fostered a very welcome climate there, which we’re thankful for,” Carol Johnson said. “And back home, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail has been amazing, as well.”
Campbell, of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, has weekly conversations with Martin, of the U.S. Ski Team. The coaches share videos, compare notes and work together to help Tess Johnson excel as a moguls skier. Tess Johnson is the type of athlete who takes well to coaching, Campbell says.
“She’s easy to communicate with and she makes adjustments very quickly,” he said. “Those adjustments allow her to progress more quickly.”
For her part, Johnson is more impressed by the accomplishments of the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail moguls skiers who have come before her. And after attaining her 2015 goal of earning a World Cup start, she can look to her teammates for goals to set for this year and beyond.
“(Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete) Morgan Schild was 17 last year, and she won a World Cup,” Johnson said. “So that’s an inspiration to say the least.”