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A search for young snow stars

Adia Waldburger of the Record staff
Hans Wiener hits the rail at the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Search at the Canyons last weekend.
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Two of Park City’s young residents are making names for themselves.

Hans Wiener and August "Auggie" Simmons, both 13, finished first and second, respectively, in the 2006 Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Search qualifying event at The Canyons held last weekend.

The event is a national series that challenges young North American skiers and snowboarders to show off their skills on the slopes. After a round of qualifying events in America and Canada, the finalists are sent to two final rounds in Keystone, Colo. and Killington, Vt. The overall winners will be named to an honorary "’Sports Illustrated for Kids Next Snow Team. The "All-Stars" event in Keystone has the added bonus of being broadcast as the lead-in program to the first day of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 11 on NBC. Jack Turner, who created the Snow Search, is dedicated to providing a fun atmosphere for the youth. Competitions include music and an overall entertaining atmosphere. He also demands that all participants be polite and supportive and makes good behavior and positive attitude a part of the competition.

Wiener and Simmons are free skiers and friends, who have long been supporting each other in their skiing endeavors

"I like skiing with him a lot. It’s nice skiing with someone you know," Simmons said.

They are also a study in opposites. Wiener is a self-described laid back kind of guy and this demeanor comes through in his skiing. Simmons’ mother, Leisl, says watching Wiener ski is almost poetic, as he glides through the snow and calmly runs through his tricks.

"I want to do as well at the competition as I can, but be calm about it," Wiener said. "I’m really serious about it, but I just want to have fun."

Wiener can’t remember a time he wasn’t on skis. His family moved to Park City from Connecticut when he was a baby and he was on skis by the age of two. Wiener loved the snow, but he soon craved a bigger challenge and started free riding. Besides hitting the terrain parks, Wiener also creates jumps in his backyard, cliff dives in the summer and has even been known to ski off of his roof every once in a while.

Wiener, who attends Rowland Hall St. Mark’s School in Salt Lake, trains every weekend in Park City and tries to night ski a few times during the week. He entered the Snow Search last year and didn’t win, so this year’s victory was exciting for Wiener’s entire family.

"It was really exciting to hear his name called out," said Wiener’s father, David.

Wiener skis without a coach, so he relies heavily on his parents’ support. He also gets a lot of encouragement from his school and friends in Park City. He said he had a slight edge as he was competing.

"My friends and I are at the same level of skiing, but I thought I was a little better, I did a little more stuff," Wiener said.

Wiener is hoping to add some "stuff" to his runs at the two final competitions, so he can maintain that edge against some of the best young skiers in North America.

Simmons is a star in training. Right now, he balances his skiing passion with playing the electric guitar, and excels at both. Just one week after winning at the Snow Search he is performing in Salt Lake as part of the "School of Rock" youth band.

"I hope to be famous one day," Simmons said. "When I’m in the competitions it is so cool. All the audience knows you. It’s a great feeling."

This love of the limelight comes from Simmons’ intense nature. As the oldest of four, his mother said he has always been naturally competitive and driven.

He had to pull some pretty big tricks to win last weekend, but he said that suited him.

"They like kids that have a good attitude and encourage the little kids," Simmons said. Simmons spends his weekends at the terrain park at Park City Mountain Resort, and his plan for winning in the next round is just to do the best that he can. Simmons’ rise to the top of the mountain was a little different than Wiener’s. In fact, it could be a made-for-television movie. The Simmons moved to Park City in 2001, just as the city was preparing for the start of the 2002 Winter Games. One of the first families they met were the Packs, whose son, Joe, was, at the time, an Olympic contender. Family matriarch, Penny Pack, immediately encouraged Simmons to get involved with activities at the Utah Olympic Park. Simmons fell in love with freestyle skiing and soon took advantage of everything the Park had to offer. He has since been involved with the Flying Ace All-Stars as the "air apprentice", the FLY UOP program, and numerous camps. He is also part of the "Creating Champions" program, a program designed by Olympic aerialist Emily Cook, which pairs young skiers with Olympic and professional athlete mentors. Simmons was paired with freestyle standouts Jeret "Speedy" Peterson and Parkite Nate Roberts, who have helped him with team building, mental preparation, and competition issues. Simmons says he can hardly wait to watch his "friends" compete in Turin. "We moved here during the [2002] Olympics. It’s some of the strongest memories and that he could pursue his Olympic dream. It’s kind of magical. It has a spiritual energy," Leisl said. Simmons will try and take some of that intense energy to the finals in the coming months. Simmons’ and Wiener’s first experience as "TV stars" will take place in Keystone, Colo., on Jan. 27-28. NBC Sports will broadcast the event on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2006, from noon- 1 p.m. leading into the first day of Olympic coverage. The Next Snow Search Finals will be held in Killington, Vt., Mar. 3-5. Television coverage will be announced later.

The Sports Illustrated For Kids Next Snow Search


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