Freestyle athletes visit Lake Placid students

LAKE PLACID – Members of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team visited students at the Lake Placid Middle/High School on Monday afternoon.

The skiers are in town for the FIS Freestyle World Cup that takes place Thursday through Saturday. Competition kicks off with a moguls event Thursday at Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington and continues with an aerials competition Friday and Saturday at the Olympic Ski Jumps in Lake Placid.

The five skiers visited sixth graders in Cindy Gallagher’s classroom. They started the presentation with a video and then answered questions from the students.

“It was fun to see the kids,” skier Bryon Wilson said. “It’s fun to like reminisce when we were that age and what we were thinking and what we were doing, and it was good to pass on information we’ve learned throughout the years and kind of tell them what we’ve been through and hopefully help them on their journey.”

Wilson is coming off his first-ever World Cup win, which he picked up last month in Austria. He also has a bronze medal that he picked up at the 2010 Vancouver Games. He was joined by four other skiers: 2012 FIS Rookie of the Year Bradley Wilson of Butte, Mont., 2011 U.S. Dual Mogul National Champion Eliza Outtrim of Hamden, Conn., Brittany Loweree of Point Lookout and Bryan Zemba of Killington, Vt. They were joined by U.S. Ski Team World Cup Events Director Mike Henderson.

Students asked the skiers about issues such as when did they first started skiing, if they get nervous and what do they think about when going down the mountain.

Bryon Wilson, who is Bradley’s brother, talked about his mindset when he took bronze in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“My run in the Olympics was a blur,” he said. “I was just in a zone and ready to go.”

The skier said he was able to be in the zone because of years of training and that focus allowed him to block out distractions.

The skiers emphasized that the students should find their passions and follow them in life, even if they don’t have to do with skiing.

“I think more than anything to tell them about reaching goals and following what they are passionate about is really, really big in life, no matter what they are doing,” Outtrim told the Enterprise after the presentation.

Gallagher said the students have been active going to World Cup events in the past, attending the last skeleton and bobsled World Cup in November at Mount Van Hoevenberg. A scheduling conflict won’t allow them to attend this year’s moguls competition, but they still enjoyed the visit. The teacher said there are several reasons the school encourages the athletes to talk to the students.

“One of the main reasons for me is the children’s heritage,” Gallagher said. “They are raised here. They are born here. They need to get that association. It’s so easy to say, ‘Oh, there’s an event in town’ and not have anything to do with the event. So I love bringing the people in because they are always so appreciative of being here, and it influences these guys in a way that they never get to see. It encourages them.”

The students seemed to enjoy the presentation. Many of them were actively asking questions and appeared engaged throughout the event.

“I think it’s pretty cool seeing what their lives are about and what they do in their spare time,” student Scott Sharlow said.