Glenwood’s Cooper Cornelius earns nomination to U.S. Ski Team’s Alpine C Team | PostIndependent.com

Glenwood’s Cooper Cornelius earns nomination to U.S. Ski Team’s Alpine C Team

2017 Glenwood Springs High School graduate, Cooper Cornelius, earned a nomination to the U.S. Ski Team's Alpine C team in late May. Cornelius is shown here racing in a downhill event during the 2017-18 season.

Free from the stress of high school, and the constant traveling back and forth from Glenwood to Aspen every day for ski training, 2017 Glenwood Springs High School graduate Cooper Cornelius, 18, reached new heights as a downhill racer in his first full year out of high school.

In late May, he earned a selection to the U.S. Ski Team's Alpine C Team, becoming one of 41 skiers selected to the U.S. Ski Team program.

Cornelius, who raced in more than 55 events during the 2017-18 ski season, earned a nomination to the C Team, skiing out of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

Prior to his graduation from Glenwood, Cornelius picked up the sport as a 2-year-old at Sunlight Mountain Resort. Cornelius trained seven years with Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club after building upon his Sunlight Winter Sports Club foundation with then-coach John Bresnitz in the Buddy Werner program. During the 2017-18 ski season, Cornelius trained with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.

"I have to give John a lot of credit for developing my drive for skiing," Cornelius said. "He helped convince me that this was possible."

The nomination is a prestigious one for Cornelius, who moves one step closer to his goal of reaching the Olympics as a downhill ski racer.

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"Honestly, it hasn't quite set in just yet," Cornelius said during a recent phone interview. "I had a ski camp in Mammoth a few weeks ago, and then we were also in Squaw Valley, and that's the only experience I've really had being a team member so far, so it was definitely different. The intensity level was at a whole other level."

Prior to the official announcement from the U.S. Ski Team, Cornelius and his family knew he'd have a good shot at earning a nomination, based on the points from the season.

Nominations to the team come from objective selection criteria based on international rankings and head-to-head competition. Earning a spot on the C team means Cornelius will represent Team USA throughout the 2018-19 season.

While at Glenwood, during his last few years of high school, Cornelius would miss roughly half his classes during the week due to the travel time from Glenwood to Aspen, allowing him to put in a full day's training. Following graduation, the stress of running around, showing up early to school to complete school work and meet the requirements to graduate, and maintain peak training times all vanished for Cornelius, as he was able to focus on his skiing goals first and foremost.

"Your job is to get stronger, and ski every day," Cornelius said. "So that whole year was big for me. People don't really realize how mental of a game ski racing is, so the less that you have going on outside of ski racing, the better focused you can be, whether that's on that day, or long term. Having the stress of school be gone last year was big for me."

Despite having a full year free to himself to ski and get stronger, it was a big jump from a limited number of races through the season to a tough 55-race stretch in 2017-18. Fortunately for Cornelius, having skied his whole life helped him adjust physically.

"You kind of get used to the workload growing up," Cornelius said. "When you're not racing, you're training. I try to train at the same level I'm racing, but it's important to take care of your body, and take breaks when you need to. You have to listen to your body at times as a skier."

Thanks to his nomination to the C team, Cornelius can cut back on the number of races, allowing him to start off the 2018-19 season competing in the Nor-Am Cup racing circuit, which is part of the International Ski Federation, and takes place strictly in North America.

The Nor-Am Cup is a step below the Europa Cup, which is right below the World Cup racing circuit. Despite being in the Nor-Am Cup circuit, Cornelius will have a shot at skiing in some World Cup events this season.

For the 2018-19 season, Cornelius will gear up for a long, rigorous season by heading to France in just under a week, where he'll be on snow for about eight days. From there, he'll head to Park City for the entire month of July, training at the Center of Excellence, before packing up and heading to New Zealand and Chile in August.

Cornelius's head coach for the season will be Pete Anderson, who worked last year on the speed team with Johno McBride, a former head alpine coach at Aspen, who in the course of a storied career coached former U.S. Ski Team star Bode Miller.

Along with Cornelius, New Castle's Alice McKennis earned an A Team nomination for Alpine Skiing from the U.S. Ski Team. McKennis is a two-time Olympian and 2018 downhill World Cup Finals bronze medalist. Currently, she is recovering from a left leg injury suffered recently at a ski camp.