Fly Freestyle preps kids for U.S. team
July 11, 2007
Some of the world’s best freestyle skiers will launch for the first time this summer at the Utah Olympic Park, testing skills they just learned and talent they didn’t know they had yet under the keen eye of former Olympic freestyler Jerry Grossi, coach of the FLY Freestyle ski team.
"This program is a feeder onto the U.S. ski team," he said. "We want to take young kids, develop their talent and bring out their potential to push them on to the national team."
The Olympic Park offers classes and mini-camps for kids of all backgrounds, from those with no jumping experience to former gymnasts and divers. But those who excel in introductory day classes or three-day camps can enter a more intense training camp, directed by former Olympians and U.S. freestyle team members, to perfect their skills and eventually land a spot on the World Cup circuit themselves.
"It’s a direct shot to the U.S. team," Grossi said.
The prestige of the school has drawn future flyers from across the country, including other ski towns. Tim McGowan of Truckee, Calif. has driven to Park City for three summers in a row to enroll his 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter in the camp.
"We don’t come here from Tahoe to vacation," he said. "We come here just for the camp. They both love it."
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The treks across the desert seem to have paid off. McGowan’s daughter, Hope, is the youngest girl in the program to have hit a triple flip.
But reaching the FLY program may take time, and some novice jumpers won’t even see a ramp their first time out. Safety is the program’s primary concern, and ensuring that participants are comfortable enough to properly execute simple maneuvers trumps their desire to fly.
"We have a really good environment to learn safety," said Cheryl Bilisoly, the Fly Freestyle program manager and a former moguls skier on the U.S. development team.
"We’re very careful about who we allow to ski," she said.
Erin Emerson, director of sales for the program, estimated that 95 percent of those who attempt the "dry run" trial, which tests the skier’s ability to simply glide in a straight line, will head to the splash pool to jump. Those without any ski experience, however, don’t often advance, Emerson said.
"If you’re stuck in a snow plow, then you’re going to hit it [and crash] hard. And we’re not going to let people do that," she explained.
Kids ages 8 and older who do have the skills to launch safely can enter the park’s FLYTE School, a three-day camp that teaches basic tricks while developing jumping techniques both on water ramps and on trampolines. The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Sept. 16, and kids can sign up for unlimited sessions. The registration fee of $295 includes equipment, coaching, daily lunch and a T-shirt.
Fly Freestyle also offers an aerial intro class, private lessons and technical summer-long programs for more serious jumpers, which include USSA membership at an additional cost, to perfect their skills for the winter. For more information on camps, coaching and classes, contact Fly Freestyle at 435-658-2FLY or visit http://www.flyfreestyle.com.