SI: Hans wins hands down
For many years, 13-year-old Hans Wiener has been skiing off his roof and soaring into the snow of his backyard.
Last weekend, he soared into the big time. Wiener beat out 150 of the country’s best young skiers and snowboarders, ages 9-13, to win the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next X Snow Search held at Killington Resort in Vermont. The win crowns him as the "Best Young Skier in the U.S."
"It was really fun and I did really well," said Wiener.
Wiener said that he was in fourth on the first day, and was shocked to see that he was atop the standings by the last day.
The three-day event, which collected young snow stars in local competitions around the country to compete first in an all-star event at Keystone, Colo. and then in Vermont, featured a mix of traditional racing, moguls, Big Air competitions and pipes and parks.
To win in the finals, Wiener took first in the moguls competition and scored a series of top finishes in the Superpipe, slopestyle and Big Mountain events. Wiener was also the overall winner in the local qualifying competition held at The Canyons earlier in the season.
"It’s a really tough, long, hard skiing competition," Wiener said.
Skiers and snowboarders all competed together in each event. Disciplines included moguls, carving, big mountain riding, halfpipe, slopestyle, rails, racing, and big air jumps.
"I was a little nervous," said Wiener. "I was with my friends and we were the best skiers there."
Besides athleticism, Wiener also had to display style, attitude and sportsmanship to dominate the competition. The Snow Search is an outgrowth of Jack Turner’s Snow Monsters, and focuses heavily on kids becoming well rounded both athletically and socially.
"I was really happy and polite to the judges. I was happy with my friends," Wiener said. "I’m a really nice person to my friends and parents."
The Rowland-Hall St. Mark’s seventh grader went to the competition with his mother, Kate. Also along for the ride was Kerry Miller, coach and director of Kid’s Inc. of Utah, which has entered winning skiers in the Snow Search for the past three years. Miller says he is most proud of his skiers’ behavior rather than top finishes.
"I’m thrilled at how many of my kids make the top 25, but it’s more how many kids have the intangibles," Miller said. "I get compliments every year about my kids. They like each other and everything they do."
Wiener’s mother, Kate, agrees.
"The boys are so nice to each other and they are having such a great time," she said. "I’ve never seen Hans happier."
She also likes the focus of the competition on being an all-around skier. Wiener had to perform well in every competition as well as watch his manners.
"Hans was really consistent and they do watch your attitude," Kate said.
Perhaps one of Wiener’s best qualities is his humility. According to his father, David, he always skis his best and just goes about his business, never showing off or acting out at competitions. When Wiener retuned to school on Monday, his friends had to ask him where he had been and what he had done before he would share that he had won a major ski competition.
Wiener says he isn’t sure how famous the win will make him, but he wouldn’t mind a little publicity. His title already means a feature in Sports Illustrated for Kids and plenty of material to use in sponsor videos and packets he will send out for next season. Currently, Wiener is sponsored by Dynastar, Hestra Gloves and Cole Sport of Park City.
The Sports Illustrated for Kids Next X Snow finals also selected 25 other youth to be a part of their Snow Team. Among those named were two more Parkites, Alex Flanders-Schlopy and Colby Stevenson. Flanders-Schlopy, the son of Holly Flanders and cousin of alpine star Erik Schlopy, was in the Snow Search for the third year in a row and according to Miller is "winning everything."
"He’s a consistent placer," Miller said.
Flanders-Schlopy finished sixth overall. Stevenson is only eight years old and was also a forerunner for the 2006 X-Games. He finished 12th overall and was in the top 10 in carving and big mountain skiing.
Carter Martin and Nick Quilter, both Utahns, also competed at Killington.
The All-Star Event at Keystone, Colorado was broadcast by NBC before the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. The Next X Finals will broadcast on NBC in the near future. For more information on the Sports Illustrated for Kids Next X Snow Search, go to http://www.nextx.com .
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