PCHS students set to soar in Freestyle World Cup aerials event
January 31, 2012
When Madie Gorelik and Madison Olsen look down on the sea of spectators at Friday’s VISA Freestyle International World Cup aerials event at Deer Valley Resort, the Park City High School students will officially have their "pinch me" moment.
"There’s definitely going to be a ton of pressure because everybody I know will be there," Gorelik said laughing. "I know they’ll all be watching me. I just want to go out there and land my jumps and do the best that I can."
"Yeah, exactly," Olsen added. "We’ll see how it goes."
Gorelik, 17, and Olsen, 16, are members of the FLY Freestyle program at the Utah Olympic Park. After competing in aerials for roughly 18 months, the pair has earned the right to be showcased among the best freestyle ski athletes in the world.
Sharlee Holland, a former aerialist for the United States Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA), is the elite team head coach for FLY freestyle. A former gymnast, Holland said the transition from the floor mats and beams to rotations on skis was relatively easy.
So when Gorelik and Olsen, both former gymnasts themselves, decided to attend a recruitment camp in the summer of 2010, Holland naturally gravitated to the two.
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Holland began coaching the pair exclusively in September 2011, and since then, the youngsters have taken off under her tutelage. Gorelik and Olsen qualified to participate in this prestigious World Cup stop at Deer Valley with their performances at the U.S. Selection Events, which were held at the Utah Olympic Park in December.
Holland added that while they’re not officially associated with USSA yet, they were hand-picked by U.S. aerials coaches to compete this Friday at Deer Valley.
"They’ve been training really hard all summer," she said. "They haven’t even gotten to their highest point yet. Their potential for the rest of the season is really high. They could do really well at the Deer Valley World Cup. They both ski, and both are just good skiers."
Gorelik said she remembers watching the World Cup stop here in Park City when she was growing up.
"I realized that maybe I would have that opportunity to one day compete there," she said. "But last summer, I didn’t even think it would be possible."
Gorelik and Olsen recently received their first taste of World Cup action in Lake Placid, N.Y., and as Olsen said, "everyone was super friendly. It was great."
But once the Friday night lights at Deer Valley begin to shine, and the noise of the crowd grows louder, the youngsters said they expect a tidal wave of pressure they’ve never felt before.
"It’s definitely awesome to be able to compete in your first World Cup with your best friend," Gorelik said. "It’s always nice to have somebody there to know what you’re going through."
"I think that it’ll just be super good vibes out on the hill and it will be exciting to have that many people watching," Olsen added.
Holland said the pair quickly became best friends once they began pursuing their newest dream of aerials and are basically inseparable. Their head coach said the support from one another no doubt has helped catapult them up the ladder in their sport in such short time.
"They’re ‘The Maddies,’" she said. "They’re talented and they just learn quickly."
Gorelik is a senior at Park City High School this year, while Olsen is a junior.
"We like to push each other and cheer each other on," Olsen said. "Of course, we’re competitive, but it’s always in a good way. We don’t fight over anything."