Feeling ‘comfortable’ on big stage, Aspen halfpipe skier Cassidy Jarrell ready to make X Games push
Cassidy Jarrell’s first World Cup competition came two years ago at the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, which also happened to be one of the U.S. Ski Team’s qualifiers for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Then an 18-year-old senior at Aspen High School, Jarrell found the stage a bit daunting. He failed to put down a complete run and finished 39th out of 40 skiers.
That, however, was a long time ago. Going into this season, he feels he’s finally ready for that kind of atmosphere.
“Much more comfortable,” Jarrell recently told The Aspen Times. “I’m friends with most of the guys now. I used to feel like I didn’t belong, but now I feel like I’m right where I need to be.”
Now 20 and working alongside coach Peter Olenick, himself an Aspen freeskiing legend, Jarrell is poised to become one of the town’s next great halfpipe skiers, following in the recent footsteps of 2018 Olympic silver medalist Alex Ferreira and two-time Olympian Torin Yater-Wallace.
Jarrell is on the U.S. Ski Team’s rookie squad for the upcoming season.
“Working with Peter is a dream. He has been through the industry, so he knows more of the competitive side that involves your mental. Not just your skiing ability,” Jarrell said. “It’s going to be a good year, I can tell.”
Jarrell continued to take steps last winter, his second on the World Cup stage, making finals in three events, his best finish being seventh in Secret Garden, China, in December 2018. He opened the 2019-20 winter season by taking 18th in a World Cup event in Cardrona, New Zealand, in September.
Should things go well for him in the two upcoming World Cup events in December, bigger things could be on the horizon, such as an X Games Aspen invite.
“He’s super close to being on that Torin, Alex level, which is awesome. It’s been awesome to watch him grow and get better,” Olenick said. “Cass right now is on the verge of being one of the last couple of guys getting invited. Depends on how his early-season competitions go.”
The next World Cup competition happens to be the Copper Mountain Grand Prix, with men’s halfpipe skiing qualifiers scheduled for Dec. 11 and finals for Dec. 13. After that, it’s back to China for qualifying Dec. 19, and finals two days later. Secret Garden is a host site for the 2021 World Championships and the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Olenick, who also coaches Aspen 16-year-old Tristan Feinberg, sees both of the rising locals being in that Olympic mix two winters from now.
“My main goal is to get both of them in the Olympics in 2022,” Olenick said. “And the path they’ve been on and the training they’ve been doing, I think, is really good and they have a good shot at it. It’s still a ways away, but those next two years will go by quickly.”
Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Aspen’s John Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him. He eventually finished runner-up in the iconic race.
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