High-flying Austin wins junior nationals | PostIndependent.com

High-flying Austin wins junior nationals

Jeff CaspersenPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Joel Reichenberger Steamboat Pilot & TodayGlenwood Springs 18-year-old Zyre Austin competes at the 2012 Freestyle Skiing Junior Nationals in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday. Austin won the ski halfpipe competition.

Zyre Austin’s first serious season of halfpipe competition just keeps getting better.On Wednesday, the 18-year old Glenwood Springs skier picked up a win in the 2012 Freestyle Skiing Junior Nationals at Steamboat Springs.After a conservative approach in the qualifying round, Austin entered the finals in fifth place. She posted a top score of 63 in the finals to edge out the competition.Jeane Crane Mauzy was second with 60, and Hannah Miles was third at 57.3.Austin has been working on perfecting a flair, an inverted trick she landed for the first time during a competition at the recent Aspen/Snowmass Open, where she finished in fifth place.The Glenwood Springs native pulled out all the stops in the finals at Steamboat.”I did a grab and then another, different grab, and then my flair on my third hit, and then an alley-oop,” Austin said, recounting her winning run. “Then I did a 3 to a switch 5.”In qualifiers, I kind of took it easier and more conservative. In the finals, I pulled out my flair, which is my best trick. That’s kind of what helped me.”After spending her childhood dabbling in alpine and moguls skiing competition, Austin has focused on the halfpipe in recent years. She enjoyed some major successes in competitions last season, and decided to get serious entering 2011-12.Her win in Steamboat showcased just how much Austin has progressed in the pipe.”It was a big thing to show how much I’ve improved in a year and to go against some of the girls that have beaten me before,” she said. “All the girls at nationals are around the same age and skill level, and it just kind of shows me where I am compared to them. It’s a benchmark. Once you win that, you’re ready to go win bigger competitions.”In the process of building a ski halfpipe career, Austin has managed to put behind her a major knee injury she suffered in 2009.A number of high-level competitions potentially await Austin, including the U.S. Freestyle Championships in Stratton, Vt., later this month and a Revolution Tour stop elsewhere in Vermont. Her ability to attend the competitions depends on whether or not she can find sponsorship help in the coming weeks.Also on Austin’s wish list is the mid-April AFP World Championships at Whistler in British Columbia, Canada. She’ll need an invite to compete in that one, something she hopes to land with strong performances in Vermont.”Hopefully I can get a couple more high finishes,” she said.Doing just that would also go a long way in luring potential sponsors and a coach.If those things were to materialize, Austin might then have a chance to travel to New Zealand for offseason training.”I’d be able to not get rusty over the summer or anything,” she said. “I could keep improving.”And improvement is something Austin is experiencing plenty of these days.jcaspersen@postindependent.com

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