Radway renamed to U.S. ski team, renewing her love for the sport
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Kenzie Radway considered quitting competitive skiing.
The Steamboat Springs-born athlete and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member was not enjoying freestyle skiing through her long recovery from an ACL tear she suffered in March 2019.
“In May, I started training again but mentally was struggling a lot,” Radway said. “I worked with a sports psychologist and some of my coaches, and we came to the decision that I would take a step back from skiing and focus on school and just being a normal teenager. Then, over the past couple of months, I took a step back and began to miss it a lot. I went back to my coaches and was like, ‘I’m ready to make the decision to start training again.’”
Radway, along with four other freestyle skiers with the SSWSC, was named to the U.S. Moguls team, a step that is helping rejuvenate her love for the sport.
Transplants and SSWSC members Avital Carroll of New York, Olivia Giaccio of Connecticut and Jaelin Kauf, formerly of Steamboat and now living in Wyoming, also made the roster. Last year, Kauf finished third in the women’s World Cup standings.
Her U.S. Ski Team teammates have helped Radway through her tough year, supporting her decision either way.
“Each one of them have been incredibly supportive, and they’ve all reached out to me, which I really appreciate,” said Radway. “It’s helped me to remember my love for skiing and the team.”
Radway was first named to the team last year but didn’t compete, as she was recovering from her injury. She’s still recovering from the injury and a lapse in training, but she’s hoping to get the chance to compete at a high level this winter.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the people I haven’t been able to see in a long time, some of it because of COVID and some of it because I haven’t been competing,” said Radway. “I’ve met a lot of people around the world, and I look forward to catching up with them.”
Steamboat Springs native Landon Wendler is a new member on the men’s moguls team after a podium-packed 2019-20 season. He finished third on the North American circuit last winter, including a second-place finish at the U.S. selections in January at Steamboat Resort. Wendler finished behind U.S. Ski Team member Jesse Andringa of Boulder.
“I think he still has a lot of growing to do and maturing, but I’m very excited about the path that he’s on,” said SSWSC freeskiing high performance coach Lars Johnson. “He does all the small things right, and he’s moving in the right direction to be very successful.”
Johnson said he wasn’t surprised Wendler made the team, since that was the goal the two of them set just last year.
“We set out last season to accomplish that goal, and he did everything in his power to reach that goal,” Johnson said.
The SSWSC has always been known as a launch pad for American Nordic combined athletes, but the number of freestyle skiers coming out of the club is certainly getting noticed.
Radway said the surge in moguls success at Steamboat is thanks to coaches such as Kate Blamey, Lars Johnson and Ann Battelle.
“I think we’ve been really lucky to have the coaches and resources that we have had,” Radway said. “Our club is definitely more focused toward Nordic combined because that’s what Howelsen Hill is, but we’ve been very fortunate. … We’re lucky enough to have Voodoo, as well. Some resorts and some teams don’t even have their own local course, so that’s another big thing that’s helped in our success.”
Johnson said the freestyle program won’t overtake the prowess of Nordic combined anytime soon, but he loves that the program is thriving at all age levels.
“Nordic combined has been around here for a long time, but the second longest program here in Steamboat has been the freestyle program,” Johnson said. “We have a long rich history here in Steamboat.”
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U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Monday announced three freeski and snowboard Olympic qualifying events ahead of the February Winter Games in Beijing, with stops scheduled at Steamboat, Copper Mountain and Mammoth Mountain.