The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team and FLY Freestyle partnered up for the second time this summer, hosting an aerial recruitment camp at the Utah Olympic Park and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s Center of Excellence in Park City.
“We’re trying to take steps forward in conjunction with FLY,” said U.S. Aerials Coach Brian Currutt. “We are trying to further develop recruiting and bring new kids into the sport, by teaming up and using resources each entity has to try to grow aerial participation.”
The camp was a five day program with seven athletes participating in various testing at the Center of Excellence and training on the water ramps at the Utah Olympic Park. The testing included strength, flexibility and trampoline.
Many of the children who attended the camp were present or past gymnasts looking for a new look on acrobatics.
10 year-old Brianna Baumann from Park City, UT said, “I was a gymnast and my parents suggested I try aerials.”
Although the numbers for the recruitment camp were small, FLY Freestyle Coach Tim Preston said the quality of the athletes was strong.
“The recruitment camp is a really valuable tool to help get new athletes into the sport,” said Preston. “We’ve really put a lot of work into figuring out how we can get more talented athletes at the Utah Olympic Park. We did an outreach program to gymnastic across the country and we’ve only had about five or so in this camp, but they’re really quality athletes. If we can retain one or two it’s going to be a huge benefit to the sport.”
Level 10 gymnast Kendal Johnson from Oregon, WI caught the eyes of Currutt and Preston. 18 year-old Johnson, the only camper to travel from out of state, excels on the trampolines doing acrobatic moves. Although skiing hasn’t been a regular occurrence for him, he started dreaming big after watching Jeret “Speedy” Peterson (Boise, ID) launch the ‘Hurricane’ to take silver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
“I want to bump it up a notch, with a quad Full-fifteen Full – Full,” said Johnson. “The trick will consist of four twists in one flip, really rap it in hard and do 15 twists in the second flip and end with an easy full, so you can see the ground. It’s going to be called Armageddon, because when that get’s stomped it’s all over.”
Big dreamers, like Johnson, are who U.S. Aerials and Fly Freestyle hope to attract with the recruitment camps. The camp closed Saturday, on a perfect blue-sky summer day at the Utah Olympic Park with the Festival of Flight Competition followed by a camp wrap-up and awards.
“There were definitely some promising athletes,” said Currutt. “Hopefully they enjoy the sport and want to pursue continue it down the road.”