NAC alpine skier O’Brien looks forward to local 34th annual Huntsman Cup

PARK CITY, Utah — Alpine ski racer Saylor O’Brien joined the National Ability Center (NAC) team eight years ago at age 14, ten years after first getting on the slopes. O’Brien looks forward to competing in the NAC’s 34th Annual Huntsman Cup as an NAC team member and local Utahn. The Cup is the first national cup event of the season, held February 1-3 at Park City Mountain. The free event is hosted by the NAC, a leading non-profit organization that provides world-class adaptive recreation and outdoor adventures for individuals and families of varying abilities and backgrounds.

“There are so many learning experiences that come with being on a team but I’d say the biggest takeaway over 8 years is learning to be me. How to be me as an athlete, as an individual. How to be me through my skiing style. Just how to BE ME! The NAC has been such a huge part of my growth and supported me in each phase and challenge of my journey. They’ve encouraged me to find what makes me separate and individual from others and to embody that.”

O’Brien was born with spina bifida, a condition when a baby’s developing spinal cord does not close properly or develop fully in the womb. Her parents taught her how to ski as a toddler, and O’Brien was hooked. Her home mountains are Alta and Snowbird where she first learned how to ski.

“By my preteens, it was evident that I was quite good and needed something more,” O’Brien told TownLift. “I had watched the Winter Olympics alpine skiing event and knew that I wanted to go and win! We sought out a competition program and found the National Ability Center.”

Giant Slalom races are scheduled for February 1 and 2, followed by two two-run Slalom races on February 3. O’Brien will compete in both events.

On race days, she is ready to rock, with an “breakfast-on-the-go” while heading straight to the mountain where she stretches and takes some warm up laps. Music, lavender essential oil, inside jokes and movie lines are also important for race day prep.

I’ve competed in the Huntsman Cup several times, and I love that it’s local,” O’Brien said. “It’s always fun to have a home race. It’s a great race for those just starting out on the team where they know the hill well. It’s got great energy and it’s fun to see the support we get at the finish corral!

Following the Huntsman Cup, O’Brien has speed camp, Tech Finals in Cortina, and Nationals in Canada in March. One of her goals is to go all the way to the 2026 Winter Paralympic Games.

The Hunstman Cup is sanctioned by the International Ski and Snowboard Federation (FIS) and sponsored by Vail EpicPromise and Park City Mountain.

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