For Olenicks, X Games a family affair
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” The Olenick siblings have never been ones to keep their skis planted to the powder.
“Since they’ve been able to walk, they’ve been able to jump,” said their mother, Molly Garland.
And, while more than a little nerve-wracking to mom, that’s a good thing.
Their forever-evolving aerial prowess has elevated the Olenick kids, who grew up in Carbondale and graduated from Colorado Rocky Mountain School, to the top of the freeskiing world.
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Peter, the eldest of the three at 24 years old, is a Winter X Games regular and three-time medalist. He collected superpipe bronze and slopestyle silver in 2004 and superpipe bronze in 2007.
For the first time, Peter won’t be the only Olenick competing at the extreme-sport version of the Olympics. His little sister, 21-year-old Megan, will hit the course in the Winter X debut of women’s slopestyle.
“It’s nice to have someone else in the family here,” Peter said. “I’m really excited for her, proud of her.”
Peter knew it was only a matter of making women’s slopestyle an official X Games event before his sister would join him.
Michael, 22 and the middle child in the Olenick clan, is also at Buttermilk this week, more or less coaching his brother and sister. He’ll ride the courses with them during practice sessions and offer up observations and advice after their runs.
While also a talented freeskier, Michael’s Winter X debut has yet to come. That doesn’t keep him from his siblings’ side.
“He’s the behind-the-scenes guy,” father Bob Olenick said of Michael. “If Peter’s not doing something right, Peter will listen to him.”
Winter X Games is truly a family affair for the Olenicks.
“It’s a great experience getting to ski the course with both brothers,” Megan said. “My mom freaks out a little bit, but it’s amazing to be with my brothers.”
Moms of professional freeskiers reserve the right to freak out a little. Watching flesh and blood flip wildly through the air on skis does little to soothe the nerves.
“First of all, I’m praying no one gets hurt,” Garland said. “Safety first. Podium is second. It’s all about safety to a parent.”
Their dad feels the same way.
“I sit and try to watch patiently,” Bob said. “You like your child to do well, and you don’t want to see them hurt. It’s a little precarious. You see them fall and ooh and ah and you might say a curse word under your breath. And then you just hope the next run they do better. It’s a sport that has its ups and downs.”
Neither mom nor dad, now divorced, are shocked their kids became professional skiers. In fact, they’re the ones who pushed them in that direction.
“Growing up, my dad owned a restaurant at the base of Buttermilk,” Megan recalled. “They’d toss us out there for the day. We grew up skiing at Buttermilk.”
“They’ve been skiing since they were knee high to a grasshopper,” Bob joked. “There were no Saturday morning cartoons.”
And so it’s back to the very mountain where the Olenicks got their start.
After failing to qualify in an elimination round Wednesday, Peter won’t get to take on Simon Dumont and Tanner Hall in the superpipe final Thursday night. Megan, however, will again skip the morning cartoons and hit the slopestyle course for the women’s final at 11 a.m. Saturday, and Peter will tackle his slopestyle final at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
It’ll be just like the old days, with Olenicks abounding at Buttermilk.
“They’ve always been really close siblings,” Garland expanded. “They’ve always been a three-pack, those three.”
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