Summit teen Jenna Riccomini named to U.S. freeski rookie team for slopestyle
DILLON — Several Summit County locals took major steps within the U.S. Ski Team program with the association’s announcement earlier this week of the nominees for rookie and pro teams for the 2020-21 season.
Team Summit skier Jenna Riccomini of Breckenridge was nominated at age 16 for the U.S. freeski rookie team for slopestyle and big air. On the men’s side, Breckenridge native Jaxin Hoerter, 19, was promoted to the men’s halfpipe pro team after a strong 2019-20 winter season that included a debut at X Games Aspen in January. And Deven Fagan, 18, joined his twin brother, Kiernan Fagan, on the slopestyle and big air pro team.
Speaking from her family’s home in State College, Pennsylvania, Riccomini said the nomination to the U.S. Ski Team on the heels of her stellar season on the Rev Tour and Futures circuit was a dream come true.
“It’s a new chapter,” Riccomini said. “I’m moving on, moving to the next level. It’s kind of been this whole thing that I’ve wanted this for the past year, and it finally happened.”
Dean Spirito, Riccomini’s coach and the head International Ski Federation Academy coach for park and pipe athletes at Team Summit, said the U.S. Ski Team is getting a youthful perspective and ambition from a slopestyle and big air skier who has always been a strong rail skier and blossomed her big-jump skills this past year.
“I’m most excited to see how her jumping progresses, especially with access to training facilities the team uses,” said Spirito, who will continue to coach Riccomini next season. “The landing bag out in Utah, with consistent access to that, it’ll be exciting to see the new technical jump tricks she can add to her arsenal.”
Until then, Riccomini is executing unnatural slides and swaps on the backyard PVC-pipe rails she’s built during quarantine to hit off her new artificial ski surface and wooden ramps.
“As a young female athlete, she is excited to push the boundaries of what female skiing has been to this point,” Spirito said. “She wants to change the standard.”
After taking her jumps to the next level this season, Riccomini said she has a dream of skiing with the country’s best, like Maggie Voisin, and the world’s best, like Estonian star Kelly Sildaru and Swiss star Mathilde Gremaud, to be a part of the women’s freeski generation that brings multiple double corks — and even a triple — to competition.
“Hopefully, I can get a double-cork 10(80) and double-cork 12(60) soon, so I can get those in competitions,” Riccomini said. “A select few women are doing them, and I really look up to them. This year, I did my first double backflip. I stomped it my first try one day. I feel like I need to get these doubles down to push the sport as far as I can.”
After working with Riccomini a couple of times prior at the U.S. team’s Project Gold camp in the fall and at the Youth Winter Olympics in Switzerland in January, U.S. rookie coach Ryan Wyble said it’s clear to him Riccomini has a positive outlook to constantly learn new tricks and spend as much time as she can training.
“The goal the next couple of years for Jenna will be to continue to do really well at these Rev Tour and Nor-Am events and to hopefully start earning herself some World Cup starts,” Wyble said.
As a rookie team coach, Wyble also worked with Deven Fagan, who Wyble said proved this season he’s a force to be reckoned with on the World Cup circuit. Wyble also has been impressed how the Fagan brothers have gone “above and beyond” the U.S. team’s expectations for weight training in order to do big tricks as often as possible.
The brothers have been adding atypical weights to barbells to consistently smash personal weight-lifting records in their Frisco basement over the past two months. They said that although they love lifting weights just for the fun of it, it will help them to get bigger tricks around on smaller jumps.
For the twins, the past two months leading up to Deven’s pro team nomination have been a highlight of their young careers. They took the freeski world by storm right before the COVID-19 shutdown with Kiernan’s win at Slush Cup Utah. The viral video featured a never-before-done synchronized triple back flip from the twins as part of the competition.
“It’s one of the coolest things we’ve ever done with each other,” Kiernan said.
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