Aspen’s Zamansky retires from U.S. Ski Team
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen skier Jake Zamansky, who spent a decade with the U.S. Ski Team and made his first Olympic squad this past winter, is retiring.
His last race was the Olympic giant slalom at Whistler Creekside in February.
“I didn’t intend for the Olympics to cap my career,” Zamansky said in a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association press release, shortly after returning from a surfing trip to Nicaragua. “After Whistler, I still thought I had some fight left in me, but the way my body feels, it’s just the right time to move on.”
Zamansky made the very first U.S. Development Team just before his 18th birthday in 2001, when he was named Ski Racing Magazine’s Junior of the Year. He then went on to capture U.S. Championship medals, NorAm titles – including the 2006 overall crown – World Cup points and earn a birth in the 2009 Audi FIS Alpine World Championships.
“I look at my life right now and I am so thankful for the freedom that ski racing has provided. It’s a very special lifestyle and that comes from the people involved in the skiing world,” he said. “I’ve seen so much of the world. I ride motocross, surf in the summer and then each winter, I’ve been able to do what I love the most and make a living doing it – that’s pretty special.”
The lifestyle didn’t come without tribulations. Following the 2008 season, he fell short of a slot on the U.S. Ski Team for the following winter, yet his NorAm results were good enough for a 2009 World Cup starting spot in giant slalom. Zamansky opted to fund his own racing.
That struggle became an integral part of the documentary “Truth in Motion: U.S. Ski Team’s Road to Vancouver,” which aired on NBC two weeks before the Olympics.
“Honestly, it was one of the best things to happen to my skiing career,” Zamansky said. “I was finally racing for all the right reasons. I was tuning my own skis, so I carried all the weight if they weren’t fast and the only expectation I had to live up to was my own.”
“The guys a total fighter,” added head coach Sasha Rearick, “but he’s also professional and very well organized. He knew what he needed to do to get his skiing to the next level and he didn’t back down from that. He embraced it and got the job done. I respect that.”
In the season before the Olympics, Zamansky notched his first World Cup points at the Alta Badia, Italy giant slalom – one of the tour’s toughest races. He went on to score again in Adelboden, Switzerland after Christmas to earn a slot on the 2009 World Championships squad, which he followed up with a career-best 15th in Sestriere, Italy.
“I was totally broke before Alta Badia and actually thought it was going to be my last race. Then I scored my first World Cup points and went back to the U.S. for Christmas, scrounged up some new sponsors and went back on the road,” Zamansky said. “The big results took a lot longer to achieve than I thought they would, but that didn’t make them any less special.”
He made the U.S. Ski Team again for 2010 and scored World Cup giant slalom points in Beaver Creek and Val d’Isere, France to earn a spot in Vancouver.
“Jake was always one of the best technical giant slalom skiers through the ranks,” said teammate T.J. Lanning (Park City, Utah), who joined him on the first U.S. Development Team. “He trained hard, skied hard and in my eyes had a great career. But he’s not done with skiing. We’ll see him around.”
And that’s Zamansky’s plan too. He’ll continue to work with Spyder, a longtime U.S. Ski Team and personal sponsor, through next winter and do some coaching with a goal to remain a part of the industry.
“Skiing is what I’ve known my whole life,” Zamansky said. “Working with Spyder is a great opportunity and I’m excited to do some coaching this summer. Like I said, skiing is a special lifestyle and one I will always appreciate.”
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After falling through a trapdoor in his Telluride home a couple of weeks ago, Chris Busbee wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep his streak going. He had run in every New York City Marathon since 1998 and was going to run it virtually this year in Aspen before his spill put all that in jeopardy.