Maple Grove teen recruited by U.S. Ski Team
By Neil Salminen
Murphy News Service
Elle Gaudette of Maple Grove, 15, was recently selected by the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team’s Elite Aerial Development Program to live, train and school year-round at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Aerial skiing requires athletes to perform elaborate inverted flips and twists high into the air after skiing off a large ramp. The Elite Aerial Development Program is a national program that trains 12 young skiers to someday compete in the Olympics and World Cup with the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.
Gaudette has been interested in the sport since she first saw a video of skiers performing aerial jumps.
“I saw the video and I thought is was fake. I thought there is no way somebody can do that for real,” said Gaudette. “Now I watch it for real everyday,”
Gaudette performs these acrobatic jumps as well. Gaudette has been actively competing in gymnastics since the age of 5. She has been practicing trampoline and tumbling with coaches Chuck and Karen Osborn, owners of Airborn Xtreme in Coon Rapids, for over ten years.
“We are awfully proud of Elle,” said Karen Osborn. “It’s always nice to have your athlete’s succeed. We couldn’t be more proud.”
Osborn suggested to Gaudette’s mother about having Elle tryout for aerial skiing with the U.S. Ski Team upon learning from area freestyle ski coaches that the U.S. team was looking for more participants. Gaudette has also participated on the freestyle ski team at Highland Hills in Bloomington. She has done most of her ski training at the Elm Creek Terrain Park in Maple Grove, which is very close to her home.
Gaudette was invited to join the program after she attended a one-week talent identification camp at the end of June in Lake Placid, N.Y. She ranked No. 1 out of 17 girls at the camp after being tested in trampoline, physical conditioning and water ramping (skiing off a ramp into a pool) skills. By July 21 she moved permanently to the U.S. Olympic Training Center. She lives, trains and attends school there with her 11 team members and two coaches.
“I am so appreciative of this opportunity and have made a lot of progress in the training since I’ve moved to Lake Placid. Because of the dangerous maneuvers, aerial skiing is a sport with a slow progression. I plan on participating in aerials for many years,” said Gaudette. “I’m super excited to pursue my goal of competing in the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics.”
Gaudette has a strict day-long regimen of training, which involves ski jumping and physical workouts during the day and schooling during the evening. However she doesn’t let the excitement of being part of the U.S. Ski Team get in her way.
“I really don’t have time to sit and think about, ‘Oh my God, I’m here in Lake Placid,’ ” she said.
Instead she is focused on competing on the global scale.
“China is our biggest competition for sure,” she said. “Russia and Australia are two other competitors that we have to watch.”
Gaudette has nine years experience in competitive gymnastics and two years experience in competitive freestyle skiing, which is an ideal combination for a successful aerial skier. She has lived in Maple Grove for 15 years and attended elementary and junior high in Dist. 279. She is an honor roll student and is currently a sophomore at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Team Academy School.