Aeriel Skiier Winter Vinecki trains at the 2022 Winter Olympics


Training for the 2022 Winter Olympics begins in the pool

Believe it or not, training for air skiing begins in the pool.

In May I will put on my drysuits and equipment and start my “summer” training. The pool is a cool 50 degrees when the sun is just rising. This is just the beginning of roughly five months of water ramps.

Every training day I’m at the ramps at 7 a.m. to warm up for the first of sometimes two sessions a day. With all my diving equipment, as well as a dry suit and life jacket, I start the hike to the top of the ramps.

In contrast to snow, we don’t get a chair lift. Instead, we have to hike up 100 metal steps with all of our gear. When I think back, the mile-long stone steps to the top of Dead Women’s Pass on the Inca Trail to the Machu Picchu Marathon prepared me well!

At the top of the ramps, visualization and deep breathing are key for me. I go through the arm movements and envision the trick in my head while standing on top. Then there are three calming breaths, a quick slide over the plastic and off you go!

I do this with 10-25 jumps a day and that’s only part of the day. With my hair wet and all, I go to the gym where we do a trampoline and bungee session followed by a workout. Most days I’m not home until 5 p.m., when the rest and relaxation begins.

All of these water ramps are crucial for us to be able to safely learn new tricks. Even if it doesn’t feel good to land incorrectly on the water, it feels a lot better than to land incorrectly on snow. Coming in mid-October, I’ve practiced my tricks and I’m ready to leave the pool for the snow.

We spent over a month in Finland from early November to mid-December 2021. We had two weeks to practice our high difficulty tricks for the six World Cups that we would have over two weekends. This trip was a big moment on my radar ahead of the Games as the first places for the Olympic qualifying criteria were awarded after the last World Cup in Finland.

Another milestone for me in the run-up to the games was the Aerials Team Event in Finland. As Team Aerials will be used for the first time at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, this was an opportunity to see how our team can fare.

Only one US woman gets a seat for our Aerials Team Event. Thanks to my two fifth places in the individual competitions, I was able to take part in a team event in Finland for the first time. My teammates and I have all made our jumps to win the silver medal against the same teams we will face in the Olympics this February.

To top off this trip, when I returned from Finland I received a call that I met the objective criteria to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Impressive! I still don’t think that crept in.

My focus in the last month before the Olympics

We’re just a few competitions away from the games. Since I have already qualified for my single place, my main focus for this final preparation is to bring consistently beautiful jumps to my feet.

This will help me achieve my goal of qualifying for the Team Aerials competition in Beijing. At the end of the day, it would be the culmination of years of sacrifice and hard work to compete at this level. Cant wait to be at the top of the hill, one of the best in the world at this sport, knowing that I am wholeheartedly committed to this dream.

Soaring through the air at the Olympics alone will be a success, but getting the perfect jump on my feet is what I’m really looking for. In this way, I can fulfill my ultimate dream – to be on the podium with an Olympic medal in hand.

The only thing better would be to have my family there. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my family and friends cannot be there in person. Instead, they will gather in their home in the US and observe from a distance.

I wasn’t expecting that when I imagined my first Olympics, but like everything else, it’s a challenge that I’ll be facing straight away. The athletes in Tokyo showed us that the Games are still a way to unite the world, even if we have to be apart. In Beijing we will continue to show that we are more than life’s challenges. We will dream big and never give up.


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