SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

February 2, 2013

Freestyle Phenom: Boxford youngster soaring on national ski scene

Boxford’s Ryan McElmon has gone national in the freestyle skiing world.

So far, he’s having a world of success.

The 14-year-old, who was East Coast Junior Freestyle champion last winter, began competing in Park City, Utah, last month and has been to the podium every time out. The bigger, more intense competitions out West came about when McElmon joined the United States Ski & Snowboard Association’s TEAM Academy in Utah earlier this year.

After being asked to apply last year, McElmon was accepted to the TEAM (Total Educational and Athletic Model) program. There are approximately 25 students in the school; the local youngster is one of four that aren’t already members of the U.S. Ski team.

”It was pretty amazing. When my mom told me I was accepted, I remember jumping around in my living room,” McElmon said from Utah recently. “I get to ski every day ... and that’s been my dream since started to compete.”

McElmon first clicked into a pair of skis when he was 2 years old and started competing just two years ago. He loved the sport immediately, but figured as a kid he’d spend more time playing different sports like hockey.

”I didn’t want to buckle down until I really had to make some decisions. It’s better not to worry about that stuff until you have to,” he explained. “Now, I’m at the point where skiing can be a big part of my life through high school and beyond.”

Getting big air

Moving to Utah in November, McElmon attends school at the U.S. Center for Excellence, a school for elite student-athletes. He’s been training every day with Axis Freeride, which was founded by Olympian Chris Haslock.

Competition season began in January, and McElmon has been tearing up the slopes. He finished second at an event at Utah’s Olympic Park, second at the Park City Freestyle Classic and first at the Sun Valley Freestyle Spectacular — all in January.

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