Our elite competitors prepare for the 2014 Winter Olympics
For winter athletes who are serious about becoming elite-level competitors in alpine, cross-country, freestyle, nordic combined, ski jumping or snowboarding, Park City is the place to be. Not only are there three world-class ski resorts where athletes can practice, it’s also home to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA), whose vision is to take America to the top of the world podium in Olympic skiing and snowboarding.
USSA athletes have access to the most advanced, state-of-the-art training facilities and education resources in the world at the USSA’s 85,000 square-foot Center of Excellence. Walk into the workout facilities on any given day and you’ll see coaches, trainers and therapists working with the latest and greatest crop of top skiers and snowboarders, advising them on how to be their best.
Prepare to meet five world-class winter athletes who live and train right here in Park City, all working endlessly to earn a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympic Ski and Snowboard Team.
FAYE GULINI | Snowboardcross
Faye Gulini has loved snowboarding ever since she strapped into her first board at the young age of nine. The following winter she competed in her first snowboardcross competition, cementing her love of the sport. “If you’re not familiar with it, picture motocross on snow,” she explained. “It’s fast, scary and intimidating. Pure exhilaration.”
In 2010 Gulini made the Olympic team and in 2011 earned a well-deserved spot on the World Championships team in both snowboardcross and slopestyle. She was also top 10 at the Winter X Games and third at U.S. Championships.
When the stress of competing at such a high level gets to the athlete, Gulini says she calms down, takes a step back and remembers, “It’s just snowboarding. I love it.”
When Gulini is not traveling you can find her at the Center of Excellence working with her trainer, or tearing it up on her snowboard at Park City Mountain Resort or Canyons.
GRETE ELIASSEN | Freeskiing
Professional freeskier, Grete Eliassen, trains in Park City because she says “it’s the perfect spot to be if you’re a professional skier. There’s the Center of Excellence, incredible mountains, and if you need to travel, the airport is close by.” Eliassen says that growing up she always wanted to be a professional freeskier, even if the rest of her girlfriends were taking the more traditional, ski racing path. Even though freeskiing was a far more trepidatious undertaking, Eliassen relentlessly pursued her passion, “By taking a few risks and listening to my heart, it worked out in the end.”
Eliassen has earned several sponsorships, Red Bull and Powder Magazine, and received numerous accolades from various competition and film festivals, including the X Games. With freeskiing making its long overdue first Olympic appearance in 2014, Eliassen hopes to get a chance to add an Olympic medal to her already impressive repertoire.
Eliassen is ecstatic to start collecting FIS World Cup points to qualify for the Olympic team. What does the athlete love most about freeskiing? “There aren’t many rules, so I can express myself any way I like. Every course is different which makes each competition feel fresh and new. It’s exciting.”
HEATHER MCPHIE | Moguls
One athlete who takes full advantage of all that the USSA offers is mogul skier, Heather McPhie. Like many other USSA athletes, McPhie stated the she “came here ready to show my commitment. I knew I was going to participate in every training session and workshop.”
Though she possessed the commitment and talent, for a long time McPhie wasn’t seeing the results she wanted in competitions. All of that changed after McPhie began working with USSA Mental Strength Coach, Craig Manning. Manning taught McPhie to let go of the past, forget mistakes made, and to focus solely on the present moment. “I stopped worrying about what others were doing. I stopped thinking about what went wrong in races. Then I started performing to my potential,” said McPhie.
McPhie credits Manning, Strength Coach Alex Moore, and her on-snow coaches for, what she now calls, her “fairy tale” season in 2009. “I went from being ranked 27th in the world to earning my first four World Cup podiums heading into the Vancouver Olympics.” Though McPhie came up short of the podium, she didn’t let that tarnish her spirit: “I’m not the type of person to ever say I’m finished. I’ll always want more.”
DYLAN FERGUSON | Aerials
Dylan Ferguson was on top of the world when he qualified to compete in the Aerials Competition at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. However, his world was quickly turned upside down when appendicitis struck right before the Games began, forcing him to withdraw from the competition.
Ferguson leaned on his family, friends, and coaches to help him and rather than dwell on his withdrawal, he shifted his focus on recovering and weeks later captured the silver medal at the 2010 U.S. National Championships. In 2011, Ferguson won his first career national crown. In 2012, he placed at two separate World Cups and another National Championship.
Ferguson’s goal now is to get a second shot at competing in the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. In the meantime, Ferguson remembers to have a good time and to always smile. “Winning is important,” he says, “but I do what I love, I love what I do, and I smile when I’m doing great.”
TED LIGETY | Giant Slalom
Ted Ligety (aka Ted Shred or Ligety-Split) is a veteran giant slalom ski racer who grew up in Park City, graduated from the Winter Sports School at Utah Olympic Park in 2002 and was named to the USSA Ski Team in 2005.
A tireless competitor whose motto is “ski with no regrets,” Ligety has always been one to push the boundaries, making sure he is continually improving his skill and technique. “As I get older, I get smarter and my mental game improves. I’m less worried about making mistakes because I know that I have to go all out if I’m going to win.” And win he does. So far Ligety has won, among other things, an Olympic gold medal in 2006, three World Cup championships, and an incredible 82 top ten finishes in World Cup competitions.
Ligety plans to continue his successful career in the 2014 Olympic Games.