Spinning on the free ride axis
Chris "Hatch" Haslock is looking to offer Park City and the surrounding areas a chance to be free free riding, that is. The former director of the FLY Freestyle program has decided to strike out on his own and create what he thinks is the first free-ride focused development program in the country.
"We’ll crossover for sure, but no one’s had a full-time free-ride aspect," Haslock said.
The Axis Freeride program will begin this winter. Unlike other freestyle programs, Haslock is going the other direction, offering the more traditional freestyle disciplines, such as moguls and aerials, as a side class rather than the main event.
Haslock designed the program after noticing a need at FLY.
"That’s a little bit more where there’s a niche, but not any great programs," Haslock said. "I think that’s where I can make a big difference."
Haslock has already worked with young free-ski stars like Auggie Simmons and Chloe Dawaulder and hopes to add many more.
Free ride, which can include big mountain, halfpipe, slopestyle, steeps, powder, and terrain skiing, will all be offered along with moguls and aerials.
"I see free ride as all elements of competitive and recreational free skiing," Haslock said. "That encompasses traditional freestyle to big-mountain skiing."
Haslock has joined forces with Jon O’Brien and the Wasatch Freestyle Club at Deer Valley to allow youth to remain connected with traditional freestyle. He plans to expose his students to all aspects of freestyle and direct children accordingly. If a student is more interested in moguls, O’Brien will bring them over to his program.
The Axis program is designed specifically for youth, ages 8-16, although Haslock says that some other ages may be considered. He hopes to attract those kids that have a more creative side and are looking to ski "out of the box." He says that many kids that are participants in alpine programs find that they really like hanging out at the terrain park.
"They’re saying, ‘Alpine’s fun, but I really like this, because I can express myself more,’" Haslock said.
Haslock also sees that although free riding is still considered an extreme sport, it is well on its way to becoming mainstream. That is why he feels the time for a quality program is now.
"When I came up in freestyle, it was extreme. Now it’s normal skiing," Haslock said. "Free-ride carries the energy that freestyle had when I was a youth."
If all goes well, Haslock will try and expand to other areas in the region to give as many West Coast kids as possible an opportunity to train seriously in free riding.
Haslock will also work with the Black Diamond Gymnastics and Fitness Center for off-snow training. Katy Heddens, owner of Black Diamond, has been talking with Haslock for awhile to try and create a complete program. Many of Heddens young gymnasts are looking for other outlets besides competitive gymnastics to develop their tumbling talents. On the other side, skiers who want to do more tricks in the terrain park need the tumbling-specific classes to, literally, get their feet off the ground.
"They get this good base and then can truck out and try other stuff," Haslock said.
Axis will have different ability levels, from beginner to competitive, as well as recreational options. Each level builds on the next in terms of time and commitment.
The Horizontal Axis program is the beginning class for free riding. It meets two evenings a week at Park City Mountain Resort, the Utah Olympic Park (UOP) or the Black Diamond gym, with a strong focus on fundamentals and basic skills. Haslock says it will be a safe, controlled nighttime class, which won’t interfere with other racing or sports programs on the weekends. The next level is Vertical Axis, an intermediate level, with two evening and Saturday classes. Off-Axis is also an intermediate-level class, but meets one more night a week. The All-Axis/Wasatch Freestyle level is the most complete and advanced level for competitive free riders and freestylists. Axis will also offer one-day camps for interested children and young visitors to discover what free riding is all about.
Programs will run both part-time and full-time throughout the year on the snow, UOP water ramps and at the Black Diamond gym.
Haslock will continue to work with coach Caroline Gleich, who assisted him at FLY and Steve Benally, a Professional Ski Instructors of America certified Park n’ Pipe Instructor. He plans to add other coaches as participation demands. He will also work with the Wasatch Freestyle coaches.
Haslock says that despite the fun, creative atmosphere of free riding, he is committed to running a very professional program. All instructors are full-time, professionally-trained coaches. His recruitment focus is on attracting new, young talent, not just the big names in free riding. Offering well-rounded programs with all styles of free riding and levels is also important to Haslock
"You create a lot better program to be able to offer all of them," Haslock said.
Haslock and Heddens will offer an Axis informational meeting for parents and a free athlete training session for children this Wednesday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Black Diamond Gymnastics and Sports Center located in the Redstone Shopping Center. For more information, contact Chris at (801) 550-1309 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.axisfreeride.com.
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