AVSC athletes at center of freeskiing progression
In awarding a $1,500 scholarship Wednesday to a 10-year-old AVSC freeskier, Torin Yater-Wallace, multiple-X Games medalist and U.S. Olympian, told Kai Morris, “If you’re working hard and having fun, anything is possible.”
Still one of the youngest medalists in Winter X Games history, Yater-Wallace withdrew from this year’s Men’s Ski Superpipe competition due to a concussion. If cleared by his doctor, as expected, Yater-Wallace will travel to Mammoth Mountain next weekend for a Grand Prix tour event.
Also competing in the upcoming Grand Prix are AVSC athletes Joey Lang, Keenan McIntyre, Andrew Tierney and Gage Carr, who represent the next generation of freeskiers, as well as alum and two-time X Games bronze medalist Alex Ferreira.
On Sunday, Ferreira saved his best run for last in the X Games superpipe and brought home his second consecutive bronze medal.
“I was mad up top,” Ferreira said. “Win or lose, I wanted to land that specific run.”
Ferreira and Yater-Wallace are currently ranked among the world’s best freeskiers. It’s a legacy that AVSC wears proudly, and one that’s been developed over time.
Currently coaching for AVSC is Peter Olenick, a four-time X Games medalist who can take credit for some of freeskiing’s progression
“Our sport is always advancing,” said Olenick, whose last X Games medal, gold for high air in the superpipe, came in 2010. He said it’s challenging to not only make it to the top, but to stay there.
Especially when there’s a pack of upstart athletes who continue to move the sport further along.
Just behind the current group of AVSC teenage freeskiing phenoms are Morris and Aspen Middle School student Tristan Feinberg, who was chosen as a forerunner for X Games superpipe events.
It was a busy weekend for the AVSC Nordic squad, as a huge team traveled to Minturn for a doubleheader, a 3K classic race in the morning and a 3K pursuit skate race in the afternoon.
Results follow and include top-10 finishes from Graham Houtsma, Chelsea Moore, Jozie Wille, Nina Beidleman and Jack Sweeney.
Two AVSC alums, Simi Hamilton and Noah Hoffman, were this week named to the world championship team. Hoping to follow in their footsteps is Hailey Swirbul of Basalt.
On the evening of Jan. 24, the Aspen/Snowmass Nordic community rallied together to raise funds for AVSC’s Swirbul, the 16-year-old who is currently in Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the World Junior Championships.
“The sprint relays were on the original community race series calendar,” said program director Maria Stuber. She said the Aspen Cross Country Center pulled together to provide a fundraising outreach for Swirbul.
The AVSC youth quake continued at A-Basin on Sunday when 9 of 10 Devo athletes finished in the top10 of their age classes, according to Eric Knight, the club’s director of freestyle, freeskiing and snowboarding.
The Devo bump skiers have strong role models in the generation that’s just ahead of their age group. During the recent USSA mogul event at Aspen Highlands, teammates Colby Lee and Aaron Lee finished second and fourth in the dual contest, besting a field of some of the country’s top mogul masters.
Many of AVSC’s alpine skiers competed at home last week, in downhill and super-G events. Anna Patterson, Tristan Lane and Katy Harris were among the local gold medalists in the speed races.
AVSC’s U14s traveled to Breckenridge for their own speed series, two super-G’s on a challenging hill. Top-10 results were achieved by Allyson Cornelius, Sean Patterson and Ethan DeMoreas.
The youngest alpine racers skied in a slalom at Highlands that was held on the former NASTAR course. Due to the size of the field, the results will be included in a future edition of The Aspen Times.
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One of the Demons’ key players, senior co-captain Graci Dietrich has severe hearing loss and relies on hand signs and lip-reading, rather than verbal communication, between her basketball teammates and coaches.