Before the ski season truly kicked off, Christy Sports had the chance to sit down with Summit County local athlete and University of Colorado Freestyle Ski Team Member Alex Nolan, to get some insights on what it is like to be a collegiate athlete; balancing getting an engineering degree and following a true passion on the mountain. Christy Sports is proud to support local athletes in their journey towards achievement on the mountain. Check out our Q&A below!
Christy Sports: At what age did you learn to ski?
Alex Nolan: I truly learned to ski when I was a sophomore in high school. I spent time being introduced to the sport when I was living in upstate New York in middle school, but really took on the sport when my family moved to Summit County in high school. When I moved to Summit County, I started skiing with the Hawkes Free Ride team for about 2 years. I really credit my success to where I am now from them by pushing my limits out of my comfort zone and the opportunity to ski bigger mountains.
CS: How is skiing different here in Colorado from where you were first introduced to the sport?
NOLAN: The quality of snow is different in Colorado, along with all the jumps and features at the resorts here. Colorado offers the optimal environment to ski in, yet I would have to say if you are a skier from the East Coast and hungry for the sport you can go as far as you want if you have the determination.
CS: Where is the coolest place you have skied and why?
NOLAN: I skied at JP Vermont (Jay Peak Resort) once. I was with all my friends and it was one of those days where the perfect conditions all came together. The resort received about 2 feet of snow prior to us arriving and I had just never experienced anything like that before. It was ideal skiing!
CS: What is your favorite place to currently ski?
NOLAN: Keystone A51
CS: If you could ski with anyone for a day who would it be?
NOLAN: Lj Strenio! He is a freestyle skier from the East Coast, amazing at rails and personifies hard work!
CS: Do you have a favorite freestyle trick?
Nolan: Cork 7
CS: What is the best advice you were ever given or a motto that you live by?
Nolan: “Skiing is 99% confidence, 1% skill.” – Shane McConkey. The quote has given me the courage to try new stuff on the mountain.
CS: Since you have started skiing what is your biggest accomplishment?
NOLAN: Taking first place in my age division at the USASA Nationals at Copper Mountain in March 2014.
CS: What is your biggest challenge in skiing?
Nolan: I started skiing later in the game from all the kids who grew up in the mountains.
CS: What are you studying at the University of Colorado?
Nolan: Environmental Engineering.
CS: What is it like to be a colligate athlete and how do you manage being a full time student and athlete?
Nolan: A lot of hard work and time management. It’s about allocating enough time to school and also being able to train for competitions. I compete in about 7 -10 competitions a season, everything from rail jams to Nationals. It is possible to go to college and ski. If you want to accomplish it, you can. Even if you believe you are too busy, know that you can get a degree and ski.
CS: If there is any advice you could share with those hoping to get where you are today, what would it be?
Nolan: It’s about staying positive, pushing the limits, and being adventurous. Even if there is not snow on the ground, it doesn’t mean training can’t go on. Try roller blading or skateboarding. Get involved in other action sports during the off season.
CS: Do you like the direction freestyle skiing is heading?
Nolan: Yes. Freestyle competitions are blowing up. There are a lot of skiers and groups out there pushing the creativity of the sport. It’s almost like there is resurgence in the sport. There is creativity through different ski types and the opening of more course options. It’s great to see!
CS: What are some of your other hobbies or what do you enjoy in the off season?
Nolan: I love staying active through hiking, long boarding, and disc golf. I am also able to get some summer skiing in during the office season at Woodward Copper!
CS: What would be your ultimate achievement in Freestyle skiing?
Nolan: Going to United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association Nationals and making the podium. To get there I will need to continue training and reaching intermediary goals.
CS: What are your plans after college?
Nolan: I hope to stay in Colorado, close to the mountains and help pass the sport onto the younger generations.
CS: Finally, are there any other fun facts about yourself or weird quirks you have about skiing?
Nolan: I love pizza, but I am lactose intolerant. I can’t stay away from it! As far as quirks, nothing really but being well hydrated and having a good breakfast is key for me leading up to competitions or a day on the hill.
We thank Alex for taking the time to sit down to chat about skiing. We hope you enjoyed learning about him as much as we did! Check out his videos here: https://vimeo.com/user8417944 or look for our posts of him on Instagram @ChristySports.