Youngster repeats atop slopestyle podium
If you ask 14-year-old Andy Partridge to summarize his second-straight first-place slopestyle finish in the USSA Freestyle Junior Olympics (ages 12-19), he may not go into too much detail.
"It was cool," said the 8th grader at Treasure Mountain International School.
Beating out teens three or four years his senior two years in a row doesn’t faze Partridge he just wants to ski and have fun doing so.
Chris "Hatch" Haslock, coach and executive director of Axis Freeride a non-profit organization founded by Haslock which introduces young athletes to freeskiing has coached Partridge since he was just eight and knows the drive of the 14-year-old can take him a long way if he so desires.
"He doesn’t settle for just doing," Haslock said of Partridge. "He does everything with his own style."
That style has the youngster dominating national events such as the Freestyle Junior Olympics; it is the only time in the 10-year history of the competition that any athlete has won back-to-back individual discipline titles.
Slopestyle is an extreme winter sport which entails trying to perform the most impressive, unique and difficult tricks while flying as high as possible through the air.
"The fact he came back and repeated is pretty impressive," Haslock said. "That shows me he can deal with that pressure."
Partridge remembers moving to Park City about five years ago and a neighborhood kid on his street introducing him to skiing and slopestyle. Since then, Partridge has taken flight.
Partridge said he tried snowboarding a few times before he moved to Park City, but once he strapped on a pair of skis, it was a whole new world.
"I just decided to ski," he said.
With most of the older teens now gunning for the 2012 title, and with the target resting on Partridge’s back, he said that the only way to be the best is to stay the best.
"This year was just a lot more competitive," he said. "The level (of athletes) was higher and it was definitely harder."
As he moves forward as one of the top U.S. youngsters in the sport of slopestyle, Partridge said his short-term and long-term goals basically run parallel.
"I want to get into the Dew Tour," he said. "And later on, the X Games, and maybe the Olympics if slopestyle becomes an official Olympic sport."
Haslock, a member of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games aerialist squad, has seen his fair share of freestyle skiers over the years. What may set Partridge apart from the rest, Haslock said, is his ability to work.
"At the age of 8 he was just pretty driven," he said. "He started learning 360 (spins) off the water ramp, and then you look, and that kid has already mastered the 360. He carries that approach through out his life.
"The motivation and drive is always there."
When Partridge isn’t standing alone atop podiums, he enjoys the same things typical 14-year-old boys do: skateboarding and mountain biking in the summer, and looking up to fellow local freestyle skiers such as breakout star Alex Schlopy.
Asked what he needs to do to stay on top, he said, "I don’t even know. I just have to learn more tricks and stay ahead of the curve."
Meanwhile, he’ll be heading to Whistler, B.C., this summer to ski a glacier.
"It’s weird," he said. "It’s 75 degrees and you’re skiing. It’s so much fun."
Haslock said Partridge has begun to receive looks from sponsors. But when the coach asks Partridge what he thinks, he simply responds, "I just want to ski."