PARK CITY, Utah — Local Park City skier Troy Podmilsak competed in the men’s big air competition at the Winter X Games in Aspen on Sunday. Podmilsak placed sixth out of eight competitors, with his best two runs garnering 81 points. This was the 18-year-old’s first X Games appearance building off what has already been a very successful start to a freestyling skiing career.
While he is still considered an amateur, it was his 2022 season of accomplishments where he won or placed second in every event that he participated including winning the junior worlds big air and junior worlds slopestyle events. The success catapulted him to his first World Cup event in Switzerland last fall, where he placed third. Competing in X Games is the cherry on top of a year’s worth of hard work and competing.
“It’s a huge nod from the industry to get an invite to this because it’s so few athletes. Taking a look at how large the World Cup field is and with skiers from around the world to be part of the top eight chosen is awesome,” said Podmilsaks Coach and Manager TJ Schiller, who is also an X Games gold medalist.
Podmilsak has been garnering attention for his skiing prowess since he was 12. From being on the Park City Ski Team to competing with the U.S. Ski Team as a rookie, his notoriety and accomplishments continue to grow.
“I think he’s proven to be a super high-caliber athlete. Troy has taken the sport extremely seriously since he was 12. And you know, he’s been putting in the work, and I’ve been actually working towards them to their team. So it’s like, wow, I’ve seen his growth. No doubt he has an unnatural amount of natural talent, but he puts in the work to back it up,” said Schiller.
“Skiing has always been the most fun when I am competing. Competition skiing has always brought out the best in me and will continue to be my favorite part of skiing. The biggest thing I learned from competing would be to train your run multiple times. Doing your practice runs once will not be enough; it takes a lot of repetitions to have it mastered,” said Troy Podmilsak.
Now that freestyle skiing transitioned from what could be called the old days of trying out tricks on the snow to the use of airbags, where there is a boost in safety and the ability to try new things, the idea of trick design and making your version unique is that much more important. The ability to visualize a trick, break it down into its components, and execute it brings in the idea of skier IQ. Much like a football player’s ability to read a play or dissect their opponent’s tendencies, being able to think on another level is key.
“He understands how to break down tricks and simplify them in his mind. Someone to look at the Switch Double BIO 1900 he did the other day and try to understand how it’s done; many of them don’t even know where to start. You’re like, how do you even set up what you are doing? He’s like, Oh, it’s just a switch ten to switch nine; put those two together, and Bob’s your uncle. He definitely has this way of simplifying the more difficult tricks, which is an incredible attribute to have for sure,” said Schiller.
“It all starts with a thought of a trick; I will think of something that I want to learn and then visualize it. Once I’ve figured out what and how to do it in my head, I will go to an airbag facility and start trying it there. Once the trick is mastered in airbags, I am ready to take it to snow. I find a Jump that is big and good enough to do the new trick on. I will warm up similar tricks to the one I want to try, and once I’m ready, I will try the new trick I want to learn,” said Podmilsak.
Before the event, Podmilsak talked about big air being his favorite competition and showed his mentality of not being satisfied with simply being chosen to compete. His statement gave insight into his determination to show he belongs. It’s fair to say that this X Games experience has the makings of just being the starting point for Podmilsak.