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Snow speeder: Snoqualmie teen skier racing at National Olympics
While some residents might have glared at the falling flakes, Ann Mounsey cheered them on.
“I just tell it to keep snowing,” the 15-year-old Mount Si High School student said. “There’s nothing I like more than waist-deep powder.”
Mounsey hit the slopes during last month’s dumping of snow, getting in some valuable practice for her role in the J2 National Olympics of downhill skiing. She is currently competing at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Maine with the United States Ski Association’s Western Region J2 National team, and took fifth overall on the second day of competition.
The sophomore is one of three women from the Pacific Northwest qualifying for the event, the direct result of her hard work at the recent Western Region Elite Tech Series in Snow King, Wyo., where she won two second place medals, in giant slalom, second place in super giant slalom and fourth place in downhill.
Mounsey is currently ranked third overall in the country in giant slalom, fifth in super giant slalom, and sixth in slalom. She learned to ski at age 2, and became a competitive racer at age 5.
She’s stayed in the sport because she loves the adrenaline rush of sailing down a mountain at 77 miles per hour.
“That’s legally speeding on a highway,” Mounsey said. Going that fast, “you don’t even feel it.” Mounsey sings to herself as she races—in particular, the songs of country artist Jason Aldean. “You get to the bottom, look back up and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I just did that.’”
On skis, Mounsey usually wears a good-luck charm, a silver and crystal flower pendant given to her by a close cousin.
“I’ve won most of my races with that necklace on,” she said.
The off-season, which begins in April, will bring cross-training, workouts and skiing on the Mount Hood glacier.
While her local friends wonder where she disappears to, Mounsey has met people in the sport from all over the country who understand what she goes through.
“Kids at school don’t know what it’s like to leave for 15 days, have the time of your life, and come back to that amount of homework, cram it in, and leave the next day,” she said. “It’s hard sometimes. When your parents send you across the country, all alone, you’ve got to mature. You’ve got to get your stuff together.”
If Mounsey maintains this pace, she has a chance at a spot on a U.S. ski team or a full-ride college scholarship. While that means some sacrifices, “this road looks good for me right now,” she said. “I have to work hard for what I want.”