Aaron Blunck is resuming his quest to represent the United States at the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi next February. The seventeen year old Crested Buttian is headed to New Zealand to kick off his 2013/2014 competition season, with the overall goal of attaining a coveted spot on the U.S. Olympic Halfpipe Team.
photo: Shay Williams/Monster
The first step on the way to this goal is the FIS Freeski World Cup at Cardrona, Blunck’s most important competition down in New Zealand, as the points at stake count towards Sochi qualifying. Blunck needs strong performances at three FIS competitions in order to get invited to the US Olympic Qualifier event in January. He already has one from a second place at the Grand Prix at Copper last December. He has four more chances, of which the World Cup at Cardrona is the first. Blunck is currently ranked 4th in the FIS rankings (International Ski Federation, the points that count towards Sochi), so a podium at the World Cup would put him in even better shape.
After the World Cup, Blunck will have a few days off before the New Zealand Open. He plans to check out Milford Sound, go bungee jumping, and explore Queenstown before resuming training at Cardrona. While the NZ Open points don’t count towards Sochi, they count towards the AFP rankings (Association of Freeskiing Professionals), and it is good international competition practice. In addition to halfpipe, Blunck will compete at slope style at the NZ Open. Although it’s not his primary discipline, Blunck is out to have some fun and show the wide range of talent he has worked so hard to achieve.
Aaron has spent an enormous amount of time this summer training and preparing. He kicked off his summer with the U.S. team at the Center of Excellence in Park City, trampoline training and improving his fitness. He then went to Mt. Bachelor where he trained on snow with his Vail Ski Academy teammates. After a couple weeks at home, Blunck joined the U.S. Team in Whistler at Camp of Champions and Momentum Camps. Most recently, Blunck returned to Park City for more trampoline training and water ramps at the Center of Excellence. “I’ve been working especially hard on linking my tricks and maintaining amplitude through the entire run,” Blunck says of his training. In his time at home, Blunck has been at the gym every day, working out on a U.S. Team prescribed workout, getting his body ready to build off the accomplishments from his breakout year.
Last season, a great December that included two podiums got Blunck invited to the X Games, where he made the finals and took 7th overall. He followed that up by taking first at the Aspen Open. Blunck then travelled to Europe, where he competed at X Games Tignes. He finished the season by taking 4th at the North Face Park and Pipe Open Series at Whistler. Blunck’s strong performances have secured him sponsorships with Monster Energy, Head, Tyrolia, POC, and the North Face, who have equipped him with a budget to pursue his goals. Show your support for Aaron by liking his Facebook Page sharing everything.
We’ll be cheering Aaron on from back home in Crested Butte and on the road when we can this season so check back with the West Elk Project for updates on his trip to New Zealand and his upcoming adventures.