Moguls skier Snyderman on cusp of US Ski Team
June 27, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Most weekend warriors pedal tens of miles, get a dozen hits in softball and maybe compete in a race here or there.
Nineteen-year-old Reed Snyderman, however, finishes fourth at the U.S. Freestyle Championships two years in a row.
But now Snyderman, who joined the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club in June 2009, is transitioning from everyday student to full-time, big-potential moguls skier.
Snyderman, complete with fire-red hair and an always-present grin, seems likely to be the next big freestyle moguls skier to come out of Steamboat Springs and lock up a spot on the U.S. Ski Team.
And considering how little Snyderman has focused on skiing, it's a scary proposition to wonder what he will be like if he hits his full potential.
"He really was a weekend warrior," said Rob Day, the Winter Sports Club's head NorAm moguls coach. "Literally, last year was the first year he really trained. That was new for him. Now, he's not going to have to rush things, and he's going to be able to take a step back."
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Snyderman started skiing when he was 2 years old. Back then, he'd grab whatever he could get on his feet and fly down his grandparents' driveway.
The Winchester, Mass., native would travel to Vermont to ski with his parents and sister Kayla, who is on the U.S. Freestyle C Team.
"My sister and I loved ripping natural moguls," Snyderman said. "One day, we saw these guys rip by us. They told us we should join the ski team. We did and then won our first three contests."
But that was about it. Snyderman didn't focus on skiing, instead deciding to live the life of an everyday teen. His athletic abilities were always present. He made the varsity soccer and lacrosse teams his freshman year of high school.
The turning point came in the 2008-09 year. After catching the red-eye flight out of Boston, Snyderman showed up at the Junior Olympics in Steamboat hours before the competition.
That weekend, he won the single and dual moguls titles.
"I really was just a regular high school kid," Snyderman said. "But if you take skiing seriously, you have got to come west."
Snyderman enrolled at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, where he takes courses in spring and fall, allowing him to devote as much time as he can to skiing in summer and winter.
"I'm on the six-, or maybe seven- or eight-year plan," he said.
Chasing the dream
Now in a post-Olympic year, Snyderman has his sights set on making the U.S. Ski Team. His first chance will come at the U.S. Selection events in December in Steamboat. If he, for some reason, doesn't make it there, he'll have every opportunity during the NorAm season.
"He's close," Day said. "He's definitely in that line for sure."
Snyderman's fourth-place finish two years ago at the U.S. Championships came as a surprise, but last season's did not.
Most people know he's on the cusp, and his recent move to the Winter Sports Club looks like it will accelerate his progress toward the U.S. team.
Last season, Jeremy Cota from the Winter Sports Club made the jump, and Day said the two are similar.
Although Snyderman knows his talents, he can't get last season's fourth-place finish at the U.S. Championships out of his head.
He missed the podium by 0.01 points and still stews about it today.
"Fourth for me is the worst place to finish," he said. "You're right there, and then you didn't make it. Honestly, I'll be thinking about it until I win it next year."
Although Snyderman's rapid rise has included little failure, he doesn't fear it. If he doesn't make the U.S. team this year, he knows there is still time. Besides, it's not next year he has his eye on.
"The ultimate goal is to get a gold medal in the Olympics," he said. "I see my own potential. If I can get some luck and stay healthy, then we'll find a way to get to (the 2014 Olympics in) Sochi, Russia, and make something happen there."
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org