Winter Sports School juniors shine at USASA national championships

Ashley Sell and Cayenne Wilson finished first and second, respectively, at the skier cross national championship

FRISCO, Colo. — At the USASA National Championships at Copper Mountain, Park City’s own Ashley Sell clinched the gold, and Cayenne Wilson secured the silver in the Freeski Youth (15-16) Women category on April 9.

Sell, defending her title for the second consecutive year, shared insights into the pressures and pleasures of competing at the national level: “The pressure was really on for the second year because I came into it as the defending national champion.”

Despite facing challenges, including a less-than-ideal qualifying run, Sell’s resilience shone through.

“I tried to take a couple of deep breaths and realize that no matter what happens here, I’m already proud of myself,” she said.

Wilson, who moved up from fourth place last year to the podium this year, spoke about her mental strategies to convert nerves into performance.

“I compete all year round… I’ve gotten used to dealing with the nerves, but I just turn my nervousness into excitement,” Wilson said. Her final run was a strategic play alongside Sell, leading to a thrilling finish for both athletes.

The friendship and camaraderie between Sell and Wilson were palpable as they discussed their shared experiences.

“It’s really comforting having a teammate out there that knows exactly what you’re going through,” Sell said.

Both athletes credited the Winter Sports School in Park City for their ability to balance rigorous training schedules with academic commitments.

“Being able to go to the Winter Sports School and have my entire winter off has allowed me to travel internationally,” Sell said.

Looking ahead, both athletes have ambitious plans. Wilson plans to shift her focus more toward skier cross, and Sell aims to qualify for Junior Worlds by competing in the NorAm circuit.

Their advice to younger athletes? “Don’t give up; anything can happen in skier cross,” Sell said. Wilson echoed this sentiment, advising, “Just to have fun, don’t get in your head about the little things because it’ll eventually go your way.”

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