15-year-old Truckee freeskier on the rise
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To help support Sam Ward with his competition travel expenses, go to makeachamp.com/samward
Truckee freeskier Sam Ward has established a fine resume over the past few seasons. And at just 15 years old, he’s only scratched the surface of what he hopes to accomplish.
“My goal is to make it to the professional level and compete in the X Games and the 2022 Olympics,” Ward said Thursday on his drive back from Copper Mountain, Colo., where he competed against top-tierfreeskiers at the Revolution Tour.
Ward, a sophomore at Coldstream Alternative, began skiing at age 2 and joined the Northstar Race Team at 7. He switched to freeskiing when he was 12 and has steadily climbed the ranks since.
Last season, he won the Freeski Combined National Championship in the Men’s 15 Division and finished sixth overall at the USSA Junior Nationals — placing fifth in both halfpipe and slopestyle. He also earned first place overall in the Men’s 13-15 Division at USASA Nationals.
The results qualified Ward to compete in the 2016 USASA Nationals events and the Rev Tour, which serves as a stepping-stone program for U.S. Freeskiing.
The competition at Copper Mountain was off the charts, said Ward, who was among the youngest skiers in a field of international talent.
“It was a super high-level competition. It gives you a whole different perspective. You can kind of see where you are compared the best in the country and world,” Ward said, adding that a highlight of the trip was training in the halfpipe alongside Olympians David Wise, Maddie Bowman and Jossi Wells, who were preparing for the Dew Tour.
Along with such a priceless experience, Ward and family also have learned just how expensive it is to travel the country in pursuit of his dream. In an effort to offset those costs, which include registration fees, Ward set up a Make a Champ fundraising site — makeachamp.com/samward — in hopes of raising $7,500 toward his season. Ward will represent any supporting businesses by sporting their logos or gear while competing.
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Several Truckee-Tahoe skiers will vie for Olympic medals next month.