CRMS grad Jon Sallinen has high hopes for men’s halfpipe skiing final
Special to The Aspen Times
Heading into Sunday’s men’s ski superpipe final, Jon Sallinen is feeling a confidence boost as he looks to his first X Games Aspen.
He is a 2020 graduate of Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. The 22-year-old is coming off a World Cup halfpipe win in Calgary on Jan. 19.
He is coached for this event by X Games gold medalist and local athlete turned coach Peter Olenick. They have been working together since Sallinen was a teen.
“He has been a good help to me. We have been skiing together for three years now,” Sallinen said.
Sallinen, a native of Helsinki, Finland, has been anticipating his X Games Aspen debut for years.
“I have been dreaming about this moment for so long already. I have been planning my run for about 10 years now. I’m pretty set with my tricks,” he said Saturday afternoon before practice.
To set his dream in motion, coach Olenick helped with that process.
“(Sunday) night’s preparation started two and a half years ago with coming up with a plan for a winning run and then Jon putting in countless hours through injury and COVID to learn all the tricks to get that winning run dialed,” he said.
He said that Sallinen is “currently working on a switch right side double, so he can be the only one in the field with four-way doubles.”
Olenick explained how Sallinen has come a long way in the last year.
“My favorite moments of coaching him have been watching him tough out his second run in the Olympics after breaking his collarbone in his first run then holding his head high after disappointment. Then, I was so proud of him for winning his first World Cup last week and seeing all the hard work come to what we wanted,” he said.
Music helps Sallinen find his flow in the pipe.
“This season for my competitions I have been listening to this one song by a Finnish rapper because I am from Finland, so it’s usually one song that gets me going good,” he said.
Olenick said he is excited for Sallinen’s first X Games experience. Olenick won X Games gold in 2010 in high air. He soared with a 24-foot, 3-inch alley oop flat spin 540. On his last run that night, he boosted that to 24 feet, 11 inches. He also has two bronze and one silver in his collection.
“I still have my memories from my first X Games and the excitement of it all,” he said. “This is home for Jon, as well, so watching him get to experience the same things I did is really cool. It’s such a special event for the athletes. I’m glad I’m still along for the ride.”
Sallinen will compete against seven other athletes, including Aspen’s Alex Ferreira, a two-time champion in this event, two-time Olympic gold medalist David Wise, and Crested Butte’s Aaron Blunck, last year’s silver medalist, under the lights on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.