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Synchronized ski team eyes World Championship

Ben Husband

The Aspen Bombardiers are in sync and headed for the World Championships.

The local synchronized ski team is made up of some of the country’s top skiers – who happen to live in Aspen. All team members are ski instructors with the Aspen Skiing Co.

On April 22-24 in Vail, the Bombardiers will compete in the World Championships for the 11th consecutive year.

Each year, the World Championships host as many as 30 of the top synchronized ski teams from all over the world.

After finishing second the last two years, Aspen is going for a title this year.

“We feel like we’ve put the right formation to win it all this year,” team captain and manager Aaron Bigelow said. “We’ve handpicked what we feel are 10 of the top skiers in the country and we’re going in it to win.”

Bigelow, who can place himself among the elite class of local skiers, constructed this particular team lineup three years ago and competed in each of the two years.

But after suffering a season-ending knee injury in November, Bigelow has turned his attention to the promotion of the team.

Bombardiers this year include an impressive array of athletes. The captain of the team is Karina Alder, a member of the Argentina National Team. Her teammates include: Charlie MacArthur, who is also an extreme kayaker, three-time 24 Hours of Aspen women’s team champion Anda Rojs, former professional freestyle skier Scott Kane, David Trembley, Nick Hill, Mike Rose, Steve Waldeck, Kurt Ferenbach and co-coach Leighton Howes.

“Just about everybody on the team has taught, coached or raced around the world,” Bigelow said. “It also helps that they are all great skiers – technically on a scale from one to ten, they are all strong tens.

“These are what we feel are the best of the best in the valley,” Bigelow said. “We have household names from the ski industry in people like Anda, Karina and Charlie, so we feel like this year we have a pretty good chance.” The sport The competition is similar to that of any other synchronized sport – team members perform moves in unison.

In skiing, a routine may have some team members performing moves while skiing at speeds of 30 to 40 mph, while other members of the team fly off jumps, executing high-flying aerials.

The routines are choreographed to music and last as long as 45 seconds each. In the two-day competition, Aspen will perform six routines – three each day – in front of five international judges who “are looking for creativity, synchronicity, precision and high-level dangerous maneuvers,” Bigelow explained.

The difference between first and second place, he said, is “creativity and a very strong athletic skiing.

“You only have one try to get it right,” he added.

“Basically, what the judges are looking for are very precise technical maneuvers,” he said. “It’s almost like a dance routine, but you have to have all ten skiers thinking the same way.”

The competitions are impressive to watch, he added. “It’s probably the coolest thing you’ll ever see on snow.”

Bigelow said the Bombardiers practice four times a week – some 100 hours each season – to perfect what he hopes is a winning routine this year.

“It’s very hard to coach and to teach a sport like this,” he said. “Each skier has to be at his or her best to make it work.”

But, Bigelow added, “it’s also a lot of fun.

“We’re all friends,” he said. “And it’s the thrill of competing and when it all comes together, you have the entire team out just going for it inches apart from each other – it’s an adrenaline rush.

“I think that we are definitely strong favorites this year,” he said. “We’ve got some key players, great attitude and I think that’s the winning combination.”


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