Vail’s Heidi Kloser makes U.S. Freestyle Team
WINTER PARK – Heidi Kloser, 17, has always had a thing for moguls.
“My mom said I’d always go in there,” Kloser said. “When I was skiing in a harness with her, I’d pull here in there.”
A good 15 or so years later, Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Kloser is still skiing the bumps, so much so that she qualified for the United States Freestyle Ski C-Team with tryouts concluding Friday in Middle Park.
Kloser’s coach Alex Wilson had sent her home Friday thinking that the United States Skiing and Snowboard Association would need some time to think over the results. Kloser got as far as the stoplight at the Winter Park parking lot before she got a call to return to get fitted for a team uniform.
“It’s what I’ve waited for my entire life,” Kloser said.
Mastering a routine
After dragging her mom, Emily, into the bumps, Kloser could be found running Ricky’s Ridge in Sun Down Bowl, one of her favorite runs. At age 7, she started with then-Ski Club Vail and started competing.
She entered this week’s tryouts surprisingly confident.
“Yeah, I was trying to make it to the U.S. Ski Team,” she said. “I knew that my training would help me to a get there.”
Training is not confined just to snow, although having SSCV set up a moguls run earlier this fall before the mountain opened was a bonus. Kloser worked with SSCV strength coach John Cole off the snow, as well as with former SSCV coach Brian Baker. That involved running, weights and even games of ultimate Frisbee and ice hockey.
The net result was that Kloser was stronger and faster when she performed her runs – a 360 to a backflip iron cross – Wednesday and Friday.
“She’s actually been doing these jumps for a number of years,” Wilson said. “The difference in the speed and amount of air she got was what put her on the U.S. Ski Team. She’s gotten bigger and faster and gotten down with her timing. At 17, she can go bigger and faster and handle the pressure.”
Kloser was fourth after her runs Wednesday and stomped her runs Friday to move up to second, which made her eligible to get fitted for an American uniform.
“I wasn’t sure how long the team needed to go through the hoops, so I told her to go home,” Wilson said. “The freestyle manager told me she just made the team and I called her.”
Growing up Kloser
This is not the first time the Kloser name has been in the sports section. Heidi’s dad, Mike, is an elite endurance/adventure racer. Mom, Emily, has won the Transrockies Run. Heidi’s brother, Christian, is already working his way up the ranks in the Vail-Beaver Creek Mountain Bike Race Series.
It really doesn’t matter what season it is, the Klosers are an athletic bunch.
“Maybe it’s a little strange to other people,” Heidi said. “I’m not forced to do it. I choose to do it. I guess we’re athletes in our blood.”
While Mike has been a spectator before – the aforementioned Transrockies Run – it’s still an experience for him to be watching one of his children achieve something special.
“I think just as with any father who has kids who are into things like sports or academics, to see them achieve a personal goal is exciting,” Mike said. “I knew it was a long shot, but I’ve had long shots before. I was kind of thinking this was like my first Eco-Challenge win. She’s worked hard and prepared, and all of a sudden, she does it. It’s a bit of a shocker at first, and I had to take a deep breath. I’m thrilled for Heidi.”
Just the beginning
Life’s going to change a bit for Heidi. She will be competing in the Gold Cup up in Steamboat Springs next week. If she were to win the event, which is not likely given that the entire U.S. Freestyle Team is going to be there, Kloser would punch her ticket to Vancouver, British Columbia.
While Wilson says he “never rules anything out with an athlete,” the 2010 Winter games are probably not on the radar. As for 2014, that’s a different story.
Kloser’s friends with Toby Dawson, the Vail skier who won bronze in the moguls in Torino, Italy, in 2006. She watched that on television with her family and got to hook up with Dawson and see his cherished medal.
“Yeah, I’d like to go to the Olympics,” Kloser said. “I think I could probably make it at some point. But it’s one step at a time. I’m going to focus on what’s in front of me.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via email@example.com.
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