Local is silver skier at Utah’s Huntsman Cup
When local ski racer David Hettena finished his final Super G run at the Huntsman Cup races in Park City, Utah earlier this month, he was all set to leave the finish area and start packing up his things for the trip back home.
A friend at the Huntsman Cup ” one of the premier races in the world for disabled skiers ” convinced Hettena to stay around for the final results to be announced. It turned out to be a good decision, as Hettena ended up winning the silver medal in the Junior men’s Super G after disappointing finishes in the slalom and giant slalom previously.
“I hadn’t done any Super G training really, so I was just going into it trying to do as well as I could,” he said. “I guess speed comes naturally, so when I got back we started focusing more on that, and I guess I’m a speed specialist now.”
Originally from San Francisco, Hettena, 18, has been training with the Sugar Bowl Academy this year after graduating from Kents Hill boarding school in Maine last summer. A fast learner when it comes to skiing, he started racing only four years ago, and is spending this year taking advanced placement classes and honing his racing skills for the college circuit.
“It’s a really focused environment to be in,” Hettena said of the Sugar Bowl Academy. “It’s 100 percent committed to ski racing, so the schedule is all shaped around that … We have a lot of intense academics at the beginning and end of the year, otherwise it’s mostly skiing.”
Hettena’s ultimate goals include earning a spot on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team and continuing to improve in the speed disciplines he has found a passion for after his performance at the Huntsman Cup.
His silver medal at Park City was a big step toward achieving those goals, as nearly all of the racers and coaches for the U.S. Disabled Ski Team were at the event.
Born without the lower half of his left arm, Hettena doesn’t see his disability as a handicap when it comes to the speed disciplines in ski racing.
“There is almost no difference I can see between me and the next guy in terms of potential,” he said. “The sky’s the limit and I’m just chasing that down.”
Hettena’s racing schedule includes mostly able-bodied races, and he enjoys the competitive spirit found among the other racers at the Sugar Bowl Academy.
“I like competing in able-bodied events more because it’s all my friends and it’s way more competitive and it really pushes me to work hard,” he said. “Disabled events do the same thing ” they really do push me and it’s really inspirational to see what some people can do.”
Hettena will have a couple more big opportunities to show what he is capable of in disabled ski racing at an upcoming event in Waterville Valley, N.H., in March and again at the Disabled Nationals in Vail from March 22 through March 27.
“We’re really shooting to be ready for [Vail] because that’s where I really have to make a move and do well,” he said of the nationals.
Next year Hettena plans on continuing his racing career on the college circuit back East, but for now he is enjoying the snow out West and the chance to spend a year at the Sugar Bowl Academy.
“It gets a little solitary being up here,” he admitted. “But it’s good though. We’ve got the best coach ever ” Finn Christian Jagge ” so that’s invaluable and I’m just going to take advantage of that as much as I can.”
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