Mammoth Lakes: California’s Winter Olympics Launching Pad
Sierra Rec Magazine – Mammoth Lakes, Calif. Dec. 5 2017 — Spend any amount of time in Mammoth Lakes and the chances are you’ll bump into an Olympian. From the icons to the up-and-comers, the small Eastern Sierra resort town produces an astonishing number of elite athletes, several of whom are likely bound for PyeongChang and the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Some were born in Mammoth Lakes, and some have chosen to make it their home, but all of the athletes benefit from some of the best and most reliable snow conditions in North America, with many seasons extending into July. That snow is shaped by Mammoth’s Unbound Terrain Park builders, who are world-renowned for expertly built halfpipes and terrain parks that meet the exacting expectations of the world’s best freeskiers and snowboarders.
The U.S. Freeski and Snowboard Teams also have the advantage of training with Mammoth’s Progression Bag. The only on-snow apparatus of its kind, the enormous airbag (192’ long by 76’ wide) allows athletes to safely and radically speed up the learning curve for new tricks. Not only is Mammoth the official training ground for the US Freeski and snowboard teams, it is also home to elite alpine training each spring.
Athletes like Stacey Cook and Ted Ligety have spent many spring days training at Mammoth Mountain, which has a storied history of alpine greatness. Snow and infrastructure are only part of the equation. In Mammoth, these athletes find a supportive community that has nurtured Olympic dreams going back more than half a century. With that kind of Olympic heritage, it’s fitting that the men’s and women’s Olympic Freeski and Snowboard Teams will be named this January at the U.S Grand Prix at Mammoth. The very same halfpipe and park that so many of these athletes have trained on for much of their lives will also serve as their launching pad onto the world stage.
The Mammoth Olympic Hopefuls:
● Kelly Clark [Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe] The veteran queen of the halfpipe, Kelly paved the way, encouraging young female hopefuls to follow in her
footsteps. Kelly boasts an impressive contest record with 70 wins in competition and four Olympic appearances including a gold medal in 2002 and bronze
medals in 2010 and 2014.
● Chloe Kim [Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe] A force to be reckoned with in the pipe with a bag full of tricks and an impressive competition record to match. In 2014 Chloe qualified for the Olympics in Sochi, but as a 14-year-old was too young to compete. Chloe is now a three-time X-Games gold medalist where she was also the youngest to win gold. She is the first American woman to win the Youth Olympics Games, and was part of a momentous American podium sweep – on her home turf – during the 2017 Mammoth U.S. Grand Prix. To top things off Chloe became the first female to land back-to-back 1080’s in the pipe, earning her a perfect score of 100.
● Maddie Mastro [Women’s Snowboard Halfpipe] One to watch, Maddie’s impressive style and control in and out of the halfpipe have put her in strong contention for a spot on the U.S. team. Mastro first garnered attention in 2016, transitioning from Rev Tour success straight to the finals of elite contests around the world including podiums finishes in Mammoth, Park City, Utah and Cardrona, NZ.
● Greg Bretz [Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe] Topping podiums for years, and as a two-time Olympian, Greg’s snowboarding can best be described as powerful and technically strong. A staple of the Mammoth park scene, he got his start on Mammoth at the ripe old age of two, tagging along with his Dad, Mammoth’s lift maintenance director.
● Shaun White [Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe] A snowboarding legend, a 2-time Olympic gold medalist and winner of 24 winter and summer X-Games medals in snowboarding and skateboarding. The action sports icon-turned-mogul moonlights as the majority shareholder of Air + Style and CEO of his own company, Shaun White Enterprises.
● Carly Margulies [Women’s Freeski Halfpipe] Mammoth born and bred, skiing is in Carly’s blood. Climbing through the ranks of Mammoth’s freeski team, Margulies has been posting results since she burst onto the competitive scene in 2013. She stood atop of the podium in 2015 in U.S. Revolution Tour, then went on to win the USASA national title as well as the Aspen Open in 2016. Carly is now the newest member of the U.S. Freeski halfpipe team.
● Brandon Davis [Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle] The best hair in the biz, you can’t miss Brandon ripping down a slopestyle course with his blond curls flowing in the breeze. Topping the podium at two major slopestyle competitions – the U.S Grand Prix on his home turf of Mammoth Mountain and the Corona World Championships of Snowboarding in Yabuli, China in 2016 – Davis has been on the come-up for years, raking in multiple wins on the Revolution Tour and a FIS World Cup big air.
● Brock Crouch [Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle] SoCal shredder Brock Crouch has been a staple at Mammoth Mountain since he was barely tall enough to get on the chairlift. When he’s not chucking doubles through Main Park, Brock is training with the U.S. Slopestyle Team and competing around the globe in surf competitions. In 2014, he won the Burton European Junior Open, but really put his name on the map when he won the FIS World Cup Olympic test event in PyeongChang, South Korea last winter.
● Judd Henkes [Men’s Snowboard Slopestyle] At 16 Judd Henkes is pushing the boundaries of snowboarding. He’s the first to guinea pig a new jump, his style is on-point and he’s not afraid to try just about anything. In 2016 Judd won the halfpipe Junior Jam at the US Open, giving him a wildcard entry to the main event. Going up against some of the halfpipe greats with successes in the U.S. Revolution Tour and at USASA Nationals, Henkes is going places and he’s going big.
● Stacey Cook [Women’s Alpine Ski] Three-time Olympian, “Cookie” kick-started her 2015 season with a second-place finish in the Lake Louise downhill for the first-ever U.S. podium sweep. During the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Stacey snagged a fifth-place finish on her favorite track in Lake Louise, along with
multiple top 15 finishes.
● Tyler Wallasch [Men’s Ski Cross] Tyler made the switch from alpine to ski cross in 2011 at 16. Just one year later Tyler had his first Ski Cross World Cup start, and the following season he placed second behind X-Games gold medalist and World Champion, John Teller. Now Tyler is the 3rd-ranked American in ski cross, won the FIS Junior World Ski Championships in 2015 and has his eyes on the biggest prize in 2018.
● Katrina Schaber [Para Alpine Ski] A rising star in her sport, a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy, ADHD and Dyspraxia hasn’t stopped Katrina from finding inspiration in skiing. At 18, Kat is ranked 3rd in the United States Adaptive Standing Division and ranked in the top 16 stand up adaptive skiers by the
International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Kat took home both a gold and silver in the super combined at the U.S. National Championships, earning herself a spot on the U.S. Paralympics Alpine Skiing World Championship roster. Katrina also has her sights on the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games in Korea, having just joined the US Paralympic Team.
Photo Credit: Mammoth Mountain Grand Prix photo courtesy of Mammoth Mountain