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U.S. Ski & Snowboard Rookies Get Acclimated At Mammoth

By Andrew Gauthier
May, 28 2019
Athletes on superpipe
Athletes line up on the superpipe to hit the airbag landing at Mammoth Mountain Spring Camp in California. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Sarah Brunson)

U.S. Ski & Snowboard went behind the scenes of the U.S. Freeski and Snowboard spring training camp in Mammoth Mountain, California to see what coaching strategy and goal setting is all about. Now, we turn the page and look through the lens of our U.S. Rookie Team athletes.

U.S. Freeski Rookie Team athletes Hunter Carey (Winter Park, Colo.) and Hanna Faulhaber (Carbondale, Colo.) as well as U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team Athletes Tessa Maud (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Addie Gardner (Riegelsville, Penn.) were kind enough to share their thoughts on Mammoth Spring Camp amidst a busy training schedule. As new members of U.S. Ski & Snowboard, there are new emotions and expectations that each athlete must manage while on snow at camp.

However, before athletes headed to Mammoth, an official training site for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, they discovered they made the U.S. Freeski & Snowboard Team and their reactions were priceless.

“I was super excited when I first got the call,” said Faulhaber. “I immediately started to think about all the cool and different opportunities that this nomination opens up for me.”

For Gardner, it was a special moment for the whole family.

“I was beyond excited,” she said. “I think my parents were initially more excited than me! I worked very hard this past season and it was amazing to see it pay off through my team nomination.”

Making the team is just the beginning of what will be a very exciting ride for these new U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes. Almost immediately following the nomination announcement, U.S. Rookie Team athletes were invited to Mammoth Spring Training Camp where they are introduced to coaches and teammates, many of which are revered by the new young skiers and riders.  

“Bobby Brown (Denver, Colo.) was someone I always looked up to,” said Carey. “He used to make Youtube videos of his normal ski days and it just looked so fun. Bobby was a major influence that made me to ski the rest of my life.”

Brown, an alumnus, and legend of the U.S. Freeski Team, recently stepped back from competition, but his influence lives on through the new young athletes of the U.S. Freeski Rookie Team. Carey was not the only one influenced by U.S. Ski & Snowboard Pro Athletes.

“Growing up I would always watch the X Games and any other event that I could find that included the halfpipe,” said Faulhaber. “The two main skiers that I would watch during these events were Torin Yater-Wallace (Basalt, Colo.) and Maddie Bowman (S. Lake Tahoe, Calif.). It is such a cool experience at Mammoth Spring Camp to not only have great coaches but also ski with people that you have looked up to for your whole life.”

Riders on the U.S. Snowboard Pro Team have also left a lasting impression with the Rookies.

“Jamie Anderson has dominated the sport for so long and I always look forward to watching her creative approach in contests,” said Gardner. “I never thought the day would come where I would be riding and training with her. It’s crazy! When I am riding with the pros it seems like no big deal at the moment, but once I stop and think, I can’t help but smile and think about how lucky I am to be here with the best in the world.”

Returning U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team member Maud is still in awe of the riders she gets to share the slopes with day in day out at Mammoth Spring Camp.

“I have always looked up to Maddie Mastro, Chase Blackwell, and Ryan Wachendorfer,” she said. “Maddie has been a huge inspiration and a great big sister to me. Chase and Ryan are super cool and I think they have great style as well. Kelly Clark is another person I look up to. She has had such a huge influence in women's snowboarding and she gives back to the sport by supporting up and coming athletes. Growing up, I looked up to all of the people that are now my teammates. It is very surreal.”

Carey, Faulhaber, Gardner, and Maud share a similar excitement for the new opportunities granted by earning their spot on the U.S. Freeski and Snowboard Rookie Teams. Despite some challenging weather with over 30 inches of snow in May at Mammoth, the young skiers and riders continue to make the most of every opportunity.

“Mammoth has been pretty snowy, but we have had good days and it has been really fun,” said Carey.” I have been hitting the airbags a lot which is really helpful for learning new tricks. Also, participating in activities on and off the hill with the pros is a really crazy feeling.”

Faulhaber also has been making the most of her time at Mammoth camp.

“My experience with the team at Mammoth has been amazing,” she said. “There are many things that I loved about the trip to Mammoth. Everybody on the team is super supportive of each other and the camp was very well organized. I’m excited I was able to learn some new tricks while I was there.”

Gardner’s highlight of Camp thus far has been taking advantage of the world-class terrain at Mammoth’s Unbound Terrain Park.

“My favorite part of the camp has been the terrain parks,” she said. “Mammoth always has great features up. Not only do I get to ride, but I love watching my teammates throw down on the jumps.”

Maud claims Mammoth has her home mountain and has not wasted any time taking advantage of all the mountain has to offer. From riding terrain that fosters progression to ripping powder when the opportunity presents itself, Mammoth has continued to deliver for this hometown rider.

“Mammoth camp has been good so far,” she said. “I was glad to get a trick back that I had difficulty with this past season. Also, it has just been great to be back at my home mountain and even sneaking in a few powder runs in May!”

Its clear athletes are definitely enjoying U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Mammoth Spring Camp. However, the reality is there is work to be done. In the words of Head Freeski and Snowboard Coach Mike Jankowski, “camp is about a lot of relationship building, goal setting, and discovering how we are going to get there. It’s not just about the goal, but about the path.” The Rookies of the U.S. Freeski and Snowboard Rookie Team definitely are on the right path with clear goals and all the resources necessary to help them reach them.

Carey, Faulhaber, Gardner, and Maud all share similar goals of progressing, being a supportive teammate, locking in solid results throughout the season, and ultimately competing in their sports largest events such as X Games, Dew Tour, and the Olympics. However, U.S. Ski & Snowboard athletes are encouraged not just to be successful athletes, but also learn the tools to succeed in life. After only one year with the U.S. Snowboard Rookie Team, Maud has a strong grasp on the big picture.

“I have been doing online school for three years and I love it, she said. “Right now I am trying to complete my sophomore year. School has definitely taught me time management. I had to learn to travel and compete while being a full-time high school student. In addition to succeeding in competition, I also want to inspire others to become more involved with the sport of snowboarding. I want young girls to consider snowboarding as a sport, and not just something to do on a vacation. Eventually, I want to go to college and study business, and one day work in the snowboard industry creating gear that is not only stylish but functional and environmentally friendly.”

Maud alongside Carey, Gardner, and Faulhaber are great examples of what it means to be a U.S. Ski & Snowboard athlete. It’s not just about being the best you can be on snow, but also as a teammate, a person, and a member of the freeski and snowboard community. The Rookie Team class of 2019-20 encompasses all these values and only will continue to grow. Keep an eye on these athletes alongside the rest of the U.S. Freeski and Snowboard Rookie Team this season and you will not be disappointed. This includes the remainder of Mammoth Spring Camp where every day has offered a list of new achievements and milestones.

Mammoth Spring Training Camp will continue through June 2 as members of the U.S. Freeski and Snowboard Teams cycle through for their fair share of training. Be sure to follow all the Mammoth Camp highlights at the accounts below.

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