PARK CITY, Utah — With the World Cup Freeski Slopestyle competition set to begin this weekend in Europe, competitors from all over the world are prepared to represent their respective countries on the big stage. However, while most will be skiing for their nation’s colors, 18-year-old Park City Ski and Snowboard (PCSS) athlete James Kanzler will be skiing on his own amongst the nation’s best.
Despite the fierce competition, Kanzler is no stranger to performing on world class stages. Beginning at age six, Kanzler first witnessed the sport at a Flying Ace All-Star show at the Utah Olympic Park. After telling his mom he just had to try it, Kanzler has seen a lot of success over the years, most recently placing third at the Rev Tour in Aspen, Colo.
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“I’d say placing in those events actually helped with my confidence a little bit. It let me know that I still have what it takes to compete and mark my spot down at these competitions. That’s the part about competitions like, who knows how they’re gonna go. So I was mainly just excited and happy to put down a run and very surprised that it put me in the spot that it did,” James Kanzler told TownLift.
While Kanzler has certainly developed a lot and earned every spot he’s ever competed in, he wouldn’t be in this position without the excellent coaching from Chris Haslock, the Director of PCSS and the Youth Sports Alliance which has helped fund Kanzler’s career.
“Yeah, like they just you know, they take care of all levels of sports. They’re not just skiing, but a lot of other sports and just helping kids, you know, get good financially. You apply for a grant and they give it to you.They’ve been really good to us,” Jamie Kanzler, James’ father said.
As for the competition, qualifiers in France begin Thursday with the finals on Friday. Following that event, James will then travel to Switzerland where he’ll train for a week and then resume competition with another set of qualifying runs and finals to follow.
“Part of me is just really proud of him for having the skillset to do that stuff,” Jamie explained. “As soon as he won the spot, we all knew that we were going to do whatever we had to do to send him.”
While James will be competing amongst the world’s best, including fellow American and recent Olympians such as Alex Hall and Colby Stevenson, he’s simply focused on progressing and enjoying the experience.
“One of my main goals is to get my name out there a little bit more, and hopefully one day become known for skiing. And I’d say progress as much as I can. I’d say no matter the level of difficulty that a trick takes, or courses, or the competitor field, I’ll always find the mental state to pursue it and just try to be the best skier I can. I’m just trying to make it away in one piece and leave with a smile,” James said.