Aspen’s Zamansky makes Olympic team |

Aspen’s Zamansky makes Olympic team

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BOP GS Jake Zamansky DT 12-6-09

ASPEN – Maybe it was wishful thinking.

Now, David and Diane Zamansky’s trip to Vancouver in October to sight-see and make reservations for the Winter Olympics seems shrewd.

“Just knowing Jake and what he wanted to accomplish, we figured that’s what was going to happen,” David Zamansky said.

And that is what did happen Tuesday afternoon, when Aspen’s Jake Zamansky was officially named to the U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team. The 28-year-old is one of 13 first-timers on the 22-person squad (as is Glenwood Springs’ Alice McKennis, who burst onto the scene in December with a 10th-place finish in a World Cup downhill in Lake Louise, Alberta).

Zamansky is expected to compete in the giant slalom, which takes place Feb. 21 at Whistler Creekside. He is currently in Europe training for this weekend’s races in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, and was not available for comment.

He shared the news with his parents on Skype.

“Unofficially, we had the word a few weeks ago, but you always want to wait until it’s official and bottle up that excitement,” Diane Zamansky said. “This is so special. He worked very, very hard and has been very dedicated.

“It certainly is an honor to represent the United States.”

Success has not come without adversity. In June 2008, the U.S. Ski Team let Zamansky go after nine seasons on the B, C and Development squads for failing to meet U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association criteria.

As a result, he served as his own ski technician and travel agent last winter and leaned heavily on sponsors for funding.

In an interview with The Aspen Times in June, Zamansky admitted that financial pressures and struggles on the snow – he failed to finish in the season’s first three World Cup races – prompted him to consider walking away from the sport.

“I said I was going bankrupt, and now I’m pretty much there,” he said then. “I was struggling pretty bad and trying to decide if I wanted to continue.”

Things took a turn for the better in Dec. 21’s giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy, where Zamansky qualified for a second run for the first time in his career. He finished 24th.

After the holiday, he decided to return to Europe and resume racing. The season wound up being the most successful of his career.

He took 27th in his next start and qualified for his first World Championships. In February 2009, he took 15th in a World Cup GS in Sestriere, Italy.

Those results helped vault him from 51st to 36th in the GS world rankings.

The U.S. Ski Team reinstated Zamansky in June.

Now, he is an Olympian.

“This … accomplishment is something I’ve been working [toward] for my whole life,” Zamansky wrote in a recent blog post.

The announcement left his parents, who watched their son make his first turns at Buttermilk at age 2, beaming.

“It’s great. Absolutely unbelievable,” said David Zamansky, a former ski racer who once competed for the U.S. Talent Squad, similar to today’s Development team.

“It’s been an exciting afternoon,” Diane Zamansky added. “We’re so happy he pursued and met his goals.”

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