WATERVILLE VALLEY, New Hampshire ??вЂќ Three athletes who got their start at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley are on their way to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. What makes this so special for the resort and the training programs they hail from is that these three Olympic-bound athletes compete in three different sports.
“We are building on a tradition started by Waterville Valley founder and 1960 Olympian Tom Corcoran,” said General Manager Tom Day. “For years Waterville Valley has been known as a prominent place for aspiring alpine racers. Now, we are also on the map for our other training programs such as freestyle skiing and snowboarding.”
Snowboarder Michelle Gorgone, will return to Waterville Valley Resort to ride with former coach Bill Enos and current WV-BBTS shredders this Thursday, January 26 in preparation for her trip to Torino. Gorgone, a 23-year old Sudsbury, MA local will be representing the U.S. Olympic Snowboard Alpine Team after her fourth place finish at a World Cup parallel giant slalom on January 15. Gorgone first picked up snowboarding thanks to a cousin, but it wasn’t until WVBBTS Snowboard Programs Director Bill Enos missed the ’98 Olympic Team and returned to Waterville Valley that she received steady coaching. Gorgone, also known as ?Pirelli’, will bring her young and fast talents to Torino in hope of Olympic gold.
Nordic skier Kris Freeman, a 25-year old Andover, NH native heads to Torino for his second Olympic game appearance. After placing 15th during the 2002 games, Freeman has come back in 05/06 winning four National Titles and as the #1 XC Skier in the Country. He has returned to the trails of Waterville Valley on many occasions since his 2002 Olympic appearance.
Whether a weekend competitor or an Olympic athlete like Freeman, the 75 km of groomed and track trails at Waterville Valley make for a variety of training conditions for Nordic events. “It’s always a pleasure having Kris come back to Waterville Valley,” said Nordic Center Director, Mike Seeger. “Not only is he an incredible athlete and a really nice guy, but he always takes times to hang out with the kids who aspire to be just like him.” Freeman’s older brother Justin was also named to the U.S. XC team.
Hannah Kearney, the youngest of the three, is only 19-years old and is also alumna of the WVBBTS Ski Club in its freestyle program. She was the 2005 World Champion in moguls, had two World Cup wins in 2004 and was the 2003 U.S. Moguls Champion. Kearney, who was coached by 2002 Domestic Coach of the Year Nick Preston while at the WVBBTS academy, recently returned back to Waterville Valley to pay her respects to her coaches and visit with fans before her Olympic debut in Moguls.
Both Gorgone and Kearney are part of the Waterville Valley BBTS Ski Club. WV-BBTS is a season long weekend training program for alpine, freestyle and snowboard athletes ages 5-18 and alpine masters racers. The BBTS Ski Club dates back to the 1930’s when a group of committed skiers hiked Mount Tecumseh with axes and saws in hand, blazed narrow wooded trails and skied and raced down (their black and blue marks from a hard day of skiing reflecting their commitment to the sport). The Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers Ski Club, one of the oldest ski clubs in the country, was organized in 1934. WVBBTS was named the USSA Freestyle Club of the Year in 1999 and 2004.
The resort will be posting the results from the athletes throughout the Olympics. General Manager Tom Day summed up the news like this, “It’s really special to have one Olympian come from your resort, but to have three from three different disciplines is amazing for us.”
For more information and up-to-date snow conditions, go to www.waterville.com.