World-class athletes among us in Aspen, Snowmass
They toil in anonymity, often early in the morning before they go to work. There is little to no media coverage for what they do even though it will become an Olympic event in five years in China and is the only growing segment in the ski industry. Training is brutal, one to six hours a day of climbing and skiing some of the toughest terrain in the world.
They race for time on the weekends at venues around the country. Their goal is to represent the United States at the World Championships of ski mountaineering, held every two years. They come from all parts of the country — Jackson Hole, Anchorage, Breckinridge, Flagstaff, Boulder, Minneapolis, Durango, Gunnison, Missoula, Killington and Aspen.
The Roaring Fork Valley is being well represented by five of the 20 USA team members competing in the upcoming two weeks in the Dolomites in northern Italy, from now through March 2 by the following athletes.
John Gaston: three-time individual USA champion 2014, 2016, 2017; three-time team USA champion 2015, 2016, 2017; two-time member of the USA World team, 10th in the world team event; four-time winner of the Power of Four
Max Taam: three-time team USA champion 2015, 2016, 2017; individual USA champion 2015; four-time winner of the Power of Four, five-time member of the USA World team, 10th in the World team event
Jessie Young: three-time USA champion in both the individual and team events 2015, 2016, 2017; two-time member of the USA World team, sixth in the World team event 2015, winner of the 2016 Grand Traverse
Lindsey Plant: USA team Champion 2015, two-time member of the USA World team, sixth in the World team event 2015, winner of the 2016 Grand Traverse
Annie Gonzales: first-time USA team member, Breckinridge five peaks team champion 2015, Xterra Masters World Champion 2013 and 2014, 10C Mountain Bike Masters World champion 2009
Please follow their results by going to USSMA.org for updates on each event.
John B. Young