Winter Park halfpipe skier Svea Irving, only 15, aims for PyeongChang Olympics
Svea Irving isn’t a typical 15-year-old girl.
The Winter Park native only goes to school for half days and spends her time competing and training everywhere from California to Switzerland. All so she can fight for her chance to become an Olympian.
Irving, the younger sister of U.S. halfpipe pro team member Birk Irving, is the youngest member of the U.S. Rookie Ski Team and will be competing over the next few months to try and earn her way to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Irving grew up in a skiing family, starting herself when she was just 2 years old. By the time she had turned 10, she developed a strong interest in the sport, following in her brother’s footsteps.
“My dad’s a ski patroller and my mom’s a teacher, but she was an alpine racer when she grew up,” Irving said. “I think that’s what got me into it is that everyone skis. I first started because of my brother. I used to go and watch his competitions, and one time I told my mom that I wanted to start skiing, too. She signed me up with the park and pipe team and that’s when I got started.”
Irving has been skiing competitively for a few years now, while maintaining a busy lifestyle. She’s currently a sophomore at Middle Park High School, but said she attends school half days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays while also taking classes online.
In the summer she trains at Mount Hood and Mammoth in California, and practices on water ramps in Park City, Utah. In the winter she returns to Colorado where she primarily trains on the halfpipe at Copper Mountain.
All that training is paying off.
Earlier this year Irving took second place in the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in the halfpipe in Switzerland.
“That was such an amazing experience,” she said. “Last year was the year when I qualified for bigger comps, which got me to compete against harder competition which pushed me a lot. Going to that event was an eye-opener. This year I qualified for platinum events like the Dew Tour and the Olympic qualifiers. So I’ll get to compete against those girls in even higher events.”
Irving said she enjoys traveling to different competitions and getting to be the youngest member of the U.S. rookie pipe team, but her favorite part of the sport is the thrill.
“I think it’s the scare factor in it,” she said. “It’s really thrilling going off jumps or going through the half pipe throwing these trucks. It just makes you want to do more of it.”
When she’s not skiing, Irving said she plays soccer, and enjoys studying science in school. While she’s only 15, Irving said she intends to go to college after she graduates from Middle Park, although skiing will always remain part of the plan.
“I definitely want to go to college, but I’m not sure where I want to be at,” she said. “But I think skiing will always be a big part of my life. Hopefully making the Olympics or the X Games someday.”
Perhaps things will work out sooner rather than later for Irving.
She begins Olympic qualifiers in December, starting with the Copper Grand Prix, before the Breckenridge Dew Tour, the Snowmass Grand Prix and the Mammoth Grand Prix.
Irving will likely need to finish top three in at least two events to make the Olympic team.
“Those are the deciding factors in getting into the Olympics,” she said. “That would be amazing. Those girls are really good and there’s a lot of talent there. But there’s definitely a chance for me to go.”