Glenwood Springs skier sets sights abroad
Special to the Post Independent
With memories of the Pinocchio Cup ski races fresh on her mind, Elle Murphy of Glenwood Springs is setting her sights on another international event: the 2016 Lillehammer (Norway) Youth Olympic Games.
Murphy, a seventh grader at St. Stephen’s Catholic School and a member of Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club, is a candidate for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Norway, confirmed Walt Evans, AVSC’s director of excellence.
“Elle’s work ethic, personality and friendliness would speak well for the Irish youth team as well as our Roaring Fork Valley community,” Evans said.
Held every four years, just like the Olympic Games upon which it’s modeled, the inaugural YOG was held in 2012 in Innsbruck, Austria. AVSC alum Julia Mueller-Ristine was one of four athletes who represented the U.S. at that event.
Murphy, who has dual citizenship, hopes she can make it two in a row for AVSC at the Games, though it’s likely she’d ski under another flag.
“Every ski racer dreams one day of competing at the highest level. Declaring myself for Ireland obviously opens up some opportunities that may not have existed as a U.S. athlete,” she said.
The dual citizenship will be a major asset for Murphy in earning a trip to Norway. By declaring for Ireland, she is competing against a less-saturated field for spots on nation’s Youth Olympic Games team. If she declared her U.S. citizenship, she would have to compete against a field of skiers from across the United States as opposed to a field of skiers from across Ireland.
Last month, Murphy, along with AVSC teammates Will Laing, Madison Osberger-Low and Gordon Davies, traveled with coach Pat Callahan to Abetone, Italy, to forerun the Pinocchio Cup national junior championships races and act as goodwill ambassadors for the city of Aspen.
The hosts rolled out the red carpet for the team, which was pleasantly surprised by the attention paid by even casual fans to ski racing.
In May, Abetone, a ski-crazy community located near Florence that has ties to the 1950 FIS World Championships as well as the 10th Mountain Division soldiers, is expected to be formally named an Aspen Sister City.
This was the third time AVSC has hosted the Abetone exchange. Glenwood Springs High School senior Luke Prosence was a member of the original athlete delegation in 2013.
Murphy said her experience this year was life-changing.
“On my recent visit to Abetone, I realized that there were so many athletes like myself from all over the world. I realized that I could be on my own, independent from family and friends and prepare to ski race,” she said.
“The Abetone experience will help me prepare to attend events abroad as an Irish athlete,” Murphy added.
Preparation isn’t something new to Elle or her younger sister Kailey, who is also an accomplished alpine racer who was last year honored as the club’s top female U10 alpine skier.
Dad Ken Murphy, the owner of Glenwood Adventure Company, said, “Supporting the girls during the season takes sacrifices from everyone in the family, including household pets. Yet we would not have it any other way, as we get to spend so much time as a family together.
“Ski racing demands early mornings, late nights [and] constant travel in all weather and time,” he said, later adding that it’s a misnomer to think the sport has just one season.
“It’s become a year-round commitment for the family, it’s a lifestyle choice” and one that requires buy-in from the entire community, Ken said.
“It takes a village to raise a ski racer and there would be no way we could do it without the support of teachers, friends and extended family,” he added.
The family’s enthusiasm for skiing is evident in Elle’s positive attitude, according to AVSC coaches. The recipient last week of the club’s Tage Pedersen Commitment Award, Elle said, “When I am on the mountain, I always have a big smile.”
She added, “I just love to ski. My parents have always called it my happy place.”
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