Sam DuPratt got the phone call he had been waiting for when he was on a hike in May. He had been named to the U.S. Ski Team and wouldn't have to try out for a position.
The 19-year-old alpine skier was excited, but said the call was expected after the season he had just completed.
"There's the objective criteria, so at the end of the season I kind of knew I was going to make it because I had a really good year," he said. "But I didn't get the call until right before the tryout camp that I didn't need to try out and that I made the team."
Now that DuPratt has realized that there is still work to be done, he's excited to begin the next chapter of his career.
"Growing up, you think it will be a huge deal (to make the U.S. Ski Team)," he said. "You feel great because you've accomplished something, but you kind of realize it's just another stepping stone. You've still got to do stuff from here."
From riding in his father's backpack down the slopes of the Squaw Valley ski resort (near where DuPratt grew up in California) when he was a small child to chasing after his sister Jaime, who skis for the University of Utah and is preparing for her senior season, DuPratt has come a long way.
"My sister was a lot better than I was growing up," he said. "It was great having someone there to push me and I was always trying to catch her. Sometimes I still think I'm trying to catch her when we're freeskiing."
He said her work ethic was contagious.
"She's a hard worker and loves what she does," he said. "So you feed off of that."
But there was a time when DuPratt almost gave up skiing for good.
"When I was in the U14 age division, I told my coach, Konrad Rickenbach, that I was going to quit and play baseball," he said. "I was pretty good at baseball. I liked it low physical activity and a lot of reward. Skiing is just the opposite all the physical activity you can handle with slim-to-no reward."
Fortunately, Rickenbach talked him into sticking with skiing.
"I was leaning towards baseball and this coach came up to me and said, 'Don't quit. You have more (talent) than you think,'" DuPratt said. "So I trusted him."
After six years as a member of the Park City Ski Team, DuPratt is right where he wants to be.
"Park City was perfect from the day I got here," he said. "I had coaches like Chad Wolk and John Buchar those guys just did everything they could for me and for all their athletes, so it was a great experience."
He added that he probably wouldn't be here today without the PCST.
"It's the best team in the nation, I'd say," he said. "You've got the great facilities at Park City Mountain Resort and great training opportunities. They bent over backwards for me, and they do it for any athlete, really. They're there so you can take what you want out of it."
Now that he's in a position to succeed with the U.S. Ski Team, he's going to do his best to reward those who have believed in him and pushed him to reach his potential.
"I'm focused on getting World Cup spots for next year, winning NorAm titles, winning the 2014 World Junior Championships (in Slovakia) and sort of taking command of the lower-level races," he said. "Then I'll try to work my way up to Korea in 2018 (for the Winter Olympics). That's more my scene."
He'd love to make the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but knows he's got a tough task ahead of him to accomplish that goal.
"The U.S. team has a pretty stacked Olympic team," he said. "There are 13 (alpine) guys who are between the ages of 21 and 30 that are amazing at what they do. I'm not sure Sochi's a reachable goal for me. It would be an insane experience, but I'd have to do some pretty unbelievable things to get there."
But, just in case, DuPratt will keep working hard this summer to make sure he puts himself in the best position he can.
"We're at the Center of Excellence from about 8-4 every day," he said. "We do a lot of hikes and mountain biking and stuff, so we're outside some, but it's a lot of grueling work."
Between skiing at Mt. Hood in Oregon in August, heading to Chile this fall and preparing for the ski season to start in Colorado in November, DuPratt will be in the gym most days. But he has some plans to get out and switch things up.
"In October, I try to get out of a couple workouts to go hunting," he said. "I'm a big-time bird hunter."