Ever wonder how the aerial skiers of the U.S. Ski Team got their start? Just how does one get into performing quintuple twisting triple backflips 50 feet in the air? The answer for many was the opportunity to try the sport at a talent ID camp, several of which are held each year in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Park City, Utah.
Aerials team members Madison Varmette (Stafford, Va.) and Eric Loughran (Pelham, N.H.) each got their start in aerials after attending a Lake Placid talent ID camp. Winter Vinecki (Gaylord, Mich.) first tried aerial skiing in Park City through the Fly Freestyle program (which became incorporated into Park City Ski & Snowboard). “I liked to mess around on our trampoline at home doing flips,” Vinecki said. “And I love skiing, so I thought, ‘Why not try it?’ I came out to Park City and did the Fly Freestyle tryout camp.” The rest is history.
Varmette came from a competitive cheerleading and gymnastics background and was encouraged to attend a camp by her trampoline and tumbling coach. Despite doctors warning Varmette not to try aerials after experiencing symptoms of what was later diagnosed as transverse myelitis, she couldn’t resist.
“I wasn’t going to try out, I was just going to go up and look around because I had doctors who told me not to,” Varmette said. “But then I couldn’t help myself. So I put on all of the borrowed gear and I went out and tried it. The first time going on the ramp I sat down and kind of got scared. The second time I finally made it off and it was an amazing feeling, it was like flying.”
On July 11-14, Park City Ski & Snowboard will host a four-day introduction to aerials opportunity for athletes ages 13-19. The Aerials Tryout Camp is geared towards those with a background in gymnastics, trampoline, power tumbling and/or diving who have Olympic dreams and are compelled to compete. No prior skiing experience is necessary, but it is a definite plus.
“The goal of this camp is to introduce new athletes to the sport of aerial skiing,” explained Jana Johnson, Park City Ski & Snowboard’s aerial team head coach. “We love to get new people involved. It’s a small sport but it’s a super fun sport.”
Participants will partake in six water ramp sessions at the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) and trampoline sessions at the UOP and at U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Center of Excellence. All gear - boots, skis, wetsuit, helmet, and life jacket - are included.
Head Aerials Coach for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, Emily Cook, looks forward to meeting prospective aerials athletes, as she plans to be on site for the camp. “Introducing newcomers to our sport is super important,” Cook said. “The aerials community is small but mighty, and we want anyone who has the slightest interest in us to be able to experience aerial skiing. The nature of our sport makes us look more intimidating than we are, but it’s a very open and accepting community. We all love what we do and know if, given the chance, some of these younger athletes will love it too.”
For any aspiring athlete who may be daunted at the thought of skiing off a giant kicker into a pool, Varmette has three words, “Just do it. All you have to do is try. And ask questions. Everyone involved with tryout camp loves doing the sport. There’s no wrong question.”
If interested in participating, please visit Park City Ski & Snowboard Team's registration page.