Skiing on the Edge
Youthful Exuberance, Training Make Excellent Competitors
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Since the installation of the Freestyle Team, many skiers have come through the program. Nick Hanscom, 23, who hails from Sun Valley and is a graduate of The Community School, came through the Freestyle Team and has had a successful career skiing since. A two-time gold medalist in the Junior Olympics, Hanscom also made the U.S. Freestyle Development Team in 2002. He’s been in the top 10 in the national championships and has been training at the U.S. Ski Team headquarters, in Park City, Utah. He will also be trying to make the U.S. National Team and hopes to compete in the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia.
“In freestyle, every run is different and you can go off different lines and jumps,” Hanscom says about why he loves his sport. “Jumping is a huge part of it. There are so many different approaches and it is really challenging. It never gets easy.”
Like most of the skiers who come through the Freestyle Team and the SVSEF, Hanscom learned a lot from Zuck.
“He’s great,” Hanscom says. “He pretty much taught me how to ski. I came into the team not knowing anything. He works really well with kids. I’ve known him for 11 years and I have a really good relationship with him,” Hanscom says.
Kids who want to go through the SVSEF must start basic training at age seven. After a year or two, kids have a choice of which division they want to compete in.
The importance of that basic training is inestimable, Hanscom says. The SVSEF teaches kids the art of skiing.
“Moguls are the off-shoot of skiing,” Hanscom says. “You can’t mogul without the basics.”
Despite its appeal as a “cool sport,” freestyle continues to draw the smallest team at SVSEF, and Zuck thinks it’s partly because it’s intimidating. “Moguls are the hardest thing you can do on skis,” adds Hanscom. “If you can rip moguls, then you can do anything. You gotta be strong and fast. It’s a hard thing to get good at.”
Hanscom thinks there is another reason why Sun Valley’s freestyle team is smaller than other teams in the Valley. It’s Sun Valley’s history in racing. “More people want to race,” Hanscom says. “There are other cities with huge freestyle teams. Sun Valley has a richer racing history.”
Zuck believes there is a lot of room for expansion within the program. They’re working on a year-round program to build an indoor jumping facility south of Bellevue to help with ski jumps.
Obviously, the team attracts the daredevils of skiing who love nothing more than to go off a jump and land a perfect 720, a maneuver counting the degrees of spins a skier can turn while in the air. >>>