Coal Ridge’s Mitchell relishes chance to train with ski cross elite
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
TELLURIDE, Colorado – Kourtney Mitchell has only two seasons of ski cross racing to her name, but she’s already turned quite a few heads.
Most notably, the Coal Ridge High School senior caught the attention of U.S. Ski Team ski cross coach Tyler Shepherd, who invited the 17-year-old to train with his team in Telluride this past week.
Mitchell’s been putting in course time alongside some big names. Two of the biggest: X Games gold medalists Casey Puckett and Daron Rahlves.
Up-and-comers are also abound at the Telluride camp, a valuable training session with both the World Cup season and the 2010 Winter Olympics on the horizon. Ski cross will make its Olympic debut in Vancouver, B.C., in February.
“It can open a lot of different opportunities,” said Mitchell, who lives in Silt. “This camp here will decide whether or not I’ll be able to compete in World Cup races this year or next year.”
Mitchell, who enjoyed Nor-Am Cup success last season that won her a look from Shepherd, picked up ski cross after growing disenchanted with alpine racing.
“I kind of didn’t like the attitude,” Mitchell said. “It wasn’t as relaxed and fun anymore. I stumbled across one of the snowboarder cross teams practicing at Snowmass.”
When she learned the freestyle sport was for skiers, too, she took it up.
“They actually don’t have a team, so I trained with [Aspen Valley Ski Club’s] Miah Wheeler and went off on my own, practicing on jumps,” Mitchell said. “Then I got into Nor-Ams and, eventually, here.”
And the Silt teenager has relished the Telluride experience. Even if she’s one of the youngest racers there.
“The women I’m training with, I don’t think any are younger than 25,” Mitchell said. “I’m training with women way older than me. They’re all really accepting.”
“They’re always helping me with stuff,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know. Sometimes it surprises me. They’ll turn around and ask, ‘How did that run go?’ They keep checking, not just to give advice, but to make sure their advice is working.”
No matter what the camp does for her immediate future, Mitchell won’t stop racing. Be it back on the Nor-Am circuit or competing in World Cup events.
After all, she’s only 17.
Joked Mitchell: “I have some time.”
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