Park City Ski and Snowboard is anticipating a big season from its athletes
This upcoming season could be a big one for Park City Ski and Snowboard.
With there being no World Championships and no Winter Olympics, a lot of the focus for organizations like U.S. Ski and Snowboard and USA Nordic will be on finding and developing the next group of young athletes to take the national reins in a few years.
That’s why PCSS coaches like Jana Johnson and Troy Murphy are equally excited for this upcoming season.
“The outlook of the season should be pretty good, especially because we have a couple of athletes with a great chance of getting noticed and furthering their journey,” Johnson said.
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“I’m super psyched for this season because there are a couple of kids who are on the cusp of making the World Cup circuit, so we are excited to see how that goes,” Murphy added.
For Johnson, who is the head aerials coach for PCSS, she believes that this season could be a big one for her group with the NorAm tour coming to Park City and the Junior Worlds taking place earlier next calendar year. But there are still the nerves that come with it
“There’s always nerves at the beginning of the year because we are just getting together, jumping on new snow and testing the skills and production from this past summer,” Johnson said. “There’s always some nerves with that anticipation looming, but I’m just really excited to get going and see what the athletes can do.”
For Johnson and her aerials squad, the upcoming NorAm tour is the main focus.
The NorAm events are an integral part of the development of the freestyle skiing pipeline for U.S. Ski and Snowboard, so performing well during the three events for the aerials discipline is a lot of pressure.
The Freestyle NorAm Tour is the second-highest level of competition in the United States and provides young, up-and-coming talent the opportunity to not only prove themselves to the national teams, but to also possibly qualify for the World Cup Circuit where they’ll compete against the best in the world.
“Depending on how some of them do at the NorAms in December, there’s a good chance that they will be competing for a World Cup spot in the February event in Deer Valley,” Johnson said. “But because NorAms start soon, and with that they mean this season with no other major events, that’s what everyone trained for this summer.”
Aerials will be focusing on the NorAm events that take place during the weekends of Dec. 20-21 and Feb. 14-15 at Utah Olympic Park in Park City. That all culminates with the U.S. Aerial Championships the weekend of Mar. 7-8 in Bristol Mountain, New York.
According to Johnson, some of the athletes to keep an eye out for are Karenna Elliot, 19, Tasia Tanner, 17, and Dani Loeb, 18, all of whom have a chance to make the U.S. national team. Elliot and Loeb have the highest skill level on the women’s side while Tanner is a terrific lander and great competitor, but hasn’t quite reached their skill level but shows the potential to put it all together.
With great performances on the NorAm tour, it means that Johnson might lost he ability to coach her three stars as they move up. But it hasn’t stopped her from wanting what’s best for them, and wishing they do get that opportunity.
“I’m always really excited when they get the opportunity to move on, because my goal is to support them and help them reach their goals,” Johnson said. “When they get that chance, it’s exciting to then watch them. We work closely with the US team so we get to see those athletes, watch them progress while still being a part of their journey.”
For Murphy, PCSS head moguls coach, and his athletes, he couldn’t agree more with what Johnson says about letting go of his athletes. He understands his role in their development, but also know that the national team offers his athletes more than either he or PCSS could give them.
“For us, that’s the whole goal is to get them to the national team,” Murphy said. “We realize our role is to develop the local kids in the Park City community, getting them to the next level before sending them off. We don’t have the resources to give them the best, so we get them as far as we possibly can before letting go.”
Much like Johnson and aerials, Murphy is much looking forward to the NorAm tour for moguls. The events will take place the weekends of Feb. 12-13 at Deer Valley Resort and Mar. 7 and 9 at the Killington Ski Resort in Vermont. It all culminates at the Moguls U.S. Championships from Mar. 21-22 at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows in California.
To prepare for the NorAm, Murphy and his group spent a lot of time working at Utah Olympic Park by using theirramps and pool. He’s seen the steady progress he’s wanted day-to-day, believing that his athletes are ready for what comes next.
“We did a lot strength and conditioning and water ramp training, and the level of commitment they all had was special,” Murphy said. “All those little gains they’ve made really start to add up and that’s when you start to see the big jumps in skill level and things start to happen for them.”
Athletes to keep an eye on are Trevor Reilly and Jack Kariotis, the top two highest level athletes Murphy coaches. Both have been with Park City Ski and Snowboard for a while, and are in the running the make the World Cup circuit this season.
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It’s going to be at least another month before Summit County’s high school athletes have any chance of getting onto the field again.