GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Minnesota has a reputation for cultivating champion skiers. From Olympic medalist Cindy Nelson, in the 1970's to Lindsey Vonn, the most successful American Olympic female skier in history.
For most Minnesota skiers, the training begins at places like Hyland Hills where kids of all ages hit the slopes any given night of the week. A practice that pays off, according to Edina native and two-time Olympic contender, Kaylin Richardson from Team Gilboa.
"My whole childhood I was skiing at Hyland hills on a 175 foot vertical hill," says Richardson. "I made the U.S. Ski Team when I was 15 and I graduated from Edina High School. A lot of kids go off to Vail or the Academies, but I really love being from Minnesota. I have so much pride for it."
A majority of young skiers in this part of the country excel at the basics, which comes in part by focusing on the same runs and drills over and over.
"For no other reason, the kids in Minnesota do so well, is because they have a lot of repetition. You know, fast lifts, the rope tow like they have at Buck Hill or other places, Afton Alps as well. They're able to get a lot of runs, and a lot of gates and get a lot of mileage," says Aldo Radamus, the Executive Director of the Ski & Snowboard Club in Vail, Colorado.
Colorado is a favorite destination for Minnesotans who want the venue variety and a leg up on the season.
"The Minnesota kids only have training. They aren't free skiing like we are so that's huge, especially these days the kids have such good technical ability at such a young age, which is incredible," says Reis Stiegler, a member of the 2014 Olympic Alpine Ski Team.
From the mountains of Colorado, to the hills of Minnesota, the location is relative, when the goal is to pursue your passion.
For more information about Team Gilboa out of Hyland Hills click here.