Steamboat Springs adds to long list of moguls athletes on U.S. ski team
U.S. Ski Team nominations
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the fifth straight year, a Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club skier has been nominated to the U.S. moguls team.
Club members Olivia Giaccio, Jaelin Kauf, Kenzie Radway and Avital Shimko have already been on the national team, but Landon Wendler is a new nominee.
Being named to a U.S. ski team opens a lot of doors for athletes when it comes to equipment, training and even funding.
“Each athlete accepting the nomination to U.S. Ski Team receives world-class program support,” according to the U.S. Ski Team announcement. “Along with access to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Center of Excellence, as well as athletic benefits including elite coaching, sport science, sports medicine, high-performance staff, and education opportunities.”
Wendler finished third in the Nor-Am Cup men’s mogul standings. He got to test his skills against the ski team members during the U.S. singles moguls selections at Steamboat Resort this past winter. Wendler finished second behind national team member Jesse Andringa.
The jump to the World Cup, or Olympic level, is huge. Wendler’s SSWSC coach, Bobby Aldighieri, said the skier will train part time with Steamboat and part time with the national team to provide Wendler with the best support through his step onto the World Cup stage. The two programs will communicate about all the athletes that go back and forth to ensure consistency in their training.
“Your rookie year on the U.S. team and skiing at World Cups, it’s a much different deal than the level below. … It’s a much, much higher level,” Aldighieri said. “So, our goal is that Landon, when he gets to ski those World Cups, is really, really ready to go and he’s really worked on his craft.”
Noel Keeffe, who skis cross country for the University of Utah, was named to the team for the second year in a row. Keeffe was the first SSWSC cross-country skier to be named to a national team.
Over his first year, Keeffe said he took things a little too seriously and is hoping to relax more next year as he aims to compete in the U23 World Championships.
“I think I just need to remember why I ski, just because it’s fun,” he said. “Being with some of the best athletes in the country on the national team, I think they all remember to do that. I think it’s pretty easy sometimes to race, race, race, train, train, train. You got to be able to step back and see you’re just racing through the woods in tights.”
Keeffe hopes the first-time team members can keep that in mind, and take advantage of rookie camps and meet as many people as possible.
Steamboat Springs natives Riley Jacobs and Sammy Schuiling were both named to the U.S. rookie freeski team. Schuiling hails from Steamboat Springs, but competes for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
Current University of Denver skier and SSWSC alum Jett Seymour also earned another year on the U.S. Ski Team. The alpine skier is on the B team, based on his success at the collegiate and Nor-Am levels last winter. Seymour is the defending NCAA slalom national champion, but didn’t have the chance to repeat since the spread of COVID-19 canceled the national collegiate championships this year.
“It really opens up a lot of doors and training,” Seymour said. “It’s having access to training with the best guys in the world. So, that’s pretty sweet. It’s definitely a necessary team to be a part of to be successful on the World Cup tour.”
By being named to the U.S. national teams in their respective disciplines marks an athlete as one of the best in their craft. The next step is to perform well while on the team and become one of the best athletes in America, and perhaps, in the world.
“It’s one thing to be on the U.S. ski team, but it’s another to be successful once you’re on the U.S. ski team. You’re one of many athletes on that team, but there’s also many other national teams out there,” Aldighieri said. “Just because you’re skiing at that level, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be successful at that level. Our goal is to ensure that we provide them with the best opportunities to ski at that level.”
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The Owl Creek Chase continues — with a catch. Skiers in this year’s race won’t ever set foot on the Owl Creek Trail.