Jeff CaspersenPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

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December 20, 2012
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Austin continues pursuit of freestyle fame

Without a coach or big sponsors, Zyre Austin's pursuit of fame in the freestyle skiing world has been anything but easy. Some days, the energy just isn't there or the trick she's working on isn't coming together as she hoped."Everyone has their bad days, days when you're not really feeling the best," said the Glenwood Springs native, who turned 19 on Tuesday. "Those are the days it's toughest to stay motivated. When you don't land a trick or you're not doing it as well as you could be, that's when it's hard to either say, 'I'm going to come back tomorrow or stay until I get it.'"But a glance at the women's ski halfpipe worldwide rankings has a way of unearthing the motivation for Austin to keep plugging along. Austin is presently ranked ninth in the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) list and sits in 21st on the FIS Freestyle World Cup leaderboard."It's surprising being ranked that high, but it is definitely more motivating and inspiring to try to stay there and get higher," she said. "It makes me see my goals are closer than I thought."Austin's chief goal these days is to compete for the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Given her standing as one of the top Americans in the rankings, she has a realistic shot.And she's doing this all in her second full season of competition. The former moguls competitor is mastering the halfpipe in quick fashion."Last year, I was a newcomer to the sport, for the most part," Austin said. "I know what it's like now to compete in big competitions, against big names. I'm not as nervous about it. I feel like I belong there more. I feel a lot stronger in every way going into this season than I did last year."After putting in some training time and even entering a few competitions in New Zealand over the summer, Austin is ready to take on the 2012-13 season.She recently wrapped up a North Face Open event at Copper Mountain, where she often trains, and is readying for more competition. A February World Cup event in Sochi - an Olympic test event - is one Austin is eagerly awaiting.She's still seeking sponsorship help to aid in that journey, and in her overall quest to become one of the world's top ski halfpipe competitors. Glenwood Springs CrossFit and Rossignol currently sponsor Austin. She also landed a partial scholarship to Ski and Snowboard Club Vail, where she'll get the dedicated coaching help she's lacked in her early competitive career.Austin's always on the prowl for help. From travel to tuition, making a go of it as a freestyle skier is harsh on the wallet."I'm just kind of looking for financial sponsors," she said. "It's definitely a lot of work. You don't always have time to write the letters and all that stuff as well as training. It's been a struggle."But Austin is making the time for it all. Given her relatively newfound passion for halfpipe, the juggling act is worthy of the effort."I would say the thing I love most about it is how it makes me feel," she said. "It's really good for pushing me and knowing how to push myself, seeing how I can achieve things I never thought I could do. Basically, it makes me happy and the people in it are great. "It's just an awesome, good environment."An environment in which Austin hopes to thrive for years to come.jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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The Post Independent Updated Dec 20, 2012 12:38AM Published Dec 20, 2012 12:37AM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.