U.S. Ski and Snowboard just announced that seven Parkites have been named to U.S. National winter sports teams
It may be a long ways away from the upcoming winter sports season, but that hasn’t stopped U.S. Ski and Snowboard from preparing. As per tradition, national teams are being announced now — and that’s good news for Park City athletes.
While only one Parkite, Sydney Palmer-Leger, was named to one of the cross-country teams, seven local athletes were named to the slopestyle/big air teams.
“It’s kind of crazy because there’s a lot of people I train with in Sun Valley that are going to Utah to be on the national team. … But I’m just honored that I’m the only cross-country skier from Park City,” Palmer-Leger said. “Hopefully I can be someone that younger kids look up at. … And have that work towards having more Park City cross-country skiers on the team as well.”
Palmer-Leger, 18, is excited to be a member of the development team. She understands that while it’s an accomplishment within itself to just make the team, the real work is just beginning.
“First-year goals are going to (the NCAA national championships) while representing Utah, then hopefully get a World Junior top-10 finish, which would be pretty sweet to get that,” said Palmer-Leger. “From year to year, it just gets harder so you have to train that much more. Being on the team is definitely a little more pressure but in the end, I just have to have fun because that’s when I’m at my best.”
Park City is well-represented on the slopestyle and big air freeski national teams; with over a third of all athletes on the four combined teams hailing from the area.
Alex Hall and Colby Stevenson lead the way on the men’s pro team after dominating last season. Hall took home a World Cup gold medal in Atlanta on Dec. 12, while Stevenson finished the season on a tear with a bronze-silver-silver medal finish in his final three world cup events of the season.
“The cool thing about making the team this year is that I made the criteria for the team for the first time,” Stevenson said. “To meet the criteria, you need to have two podiums on the World Cup circuit. … So me getting three podiums is something I’m really proud of because I always wanted to do it.”
Maggie Voisin is the only other Parkite to make a pro team, as she’ll be representing on the women’s side.
There’s also a solid foundation in place for the future of Parkite athletes in slopestlye and big air. Rell Harwood and Marin Hamill were both named to the women’s rookie team while Troy Podmilsak and Richard Thomas were named to the men’s rookie team.
“Last year was my best season because I skied consistently, constantly made finals and also constantly missed podiums,” Hamill said with a laugh. “It was a bummer but that’s how it goes. … This year will be my third season on the team and I’m really looking forward to taking that next step onto the podium.”
Both Hamill and Harwood acknowledge that they’re excited for the upcoming season, but they have other goals in mind as well. The 2022 Winter Olympics have been in the vision for both girls for as long as they can remember, and making the national team is just another step in that direction.
“This upcoming season is kind of like starting the Olympic year where some of the qualifying and preparation is coming up,” Harwood said. “My biggest goal is competing in the Olympics so I’m putting some of my focus towards doing that. But the immediate next step is making the pro team, doing good in some world cups and making finals and podiums.”
For Podmilsak, this is his first time being a part of the national team — and the way he found out is something he’ll never forget.
“My coach called me while I was skiing in the backyard. … And he totally built it up throughout the phone call like I didn’t make it, started talking about how much better I got and how close I’ve gotten,” Podmilsak said. “And then he literally just dropped it on me by saying ‘and that’s why I want you on the team’. I couldn’t believe it, I was just freaking out and the first thing I said to him was ‘no way.’”
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