When 16-year-old local teen Elle Gaudette applied to attend a week-long
aerial ski camp last summer, she had no idea that she was changing the course of
her life. Upon completion of the camp Gaudette was selected by the U.S.
Freestyle Ski Team’s Elite Aerial Development Program to live, train and attend
school year-round at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Aerial skiing requires athletes to perform elaborate inverted flips and
twists high into the air after skiing off a large ramp. The national Elite
Program trains 12 young male and female skiers to someday compete in the
Olympics and World Cup with the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team.
Gaudette ranked No. 1 at the camp after being tested in trampoline, physical
conditioning and water ramping (skiing off a ramp into a pool) skills. By July
21 she had moved permanently to the U.S. Olympic Training Center. “The idea of
actually moving out there seemed like a fantasy to me,” Gaudette says. Closer
now to the end than to the beginning of her first year of training, Gaudette
knows she wants to complete her high school education at the United States Ski
and Snowboard Association TEAM (Total Educational and Athletic Model) Academy
Her elementary and junior high years in District 279 were accompanied by nine
years of training on trampoline and tumbling and two years on a freestyle ski
team where she competed in slope style. “I also practiced and skied
recreationally at Elm Creek terrain park in Maple Grove almost every day,” she
says. “Without my gymnastics and skiing skills, I would not be anywhere close to
where I am today,”
The training is intense. “Our workouts get us strong enough to land (and/or
fall on) our jumps,” Gaudette explains. “They also get us strong so we can stay
completely straight in the air. Practicing our jumps has us constantly
visualizing them and focusing on them so it will eventually become muscle
Because of its dangerous maneuvers, aerial skiing is a sport with slow
progression. However, Gaudette feels she has made much headway since moving to
Lake Placid, where she lives with 11 other team mates and two coaches.
Out of all of the qualities it will take to be successful, she feels passion
is the most important. “Yes, you need a good work ethic and things like that,
but you really need passion for skiing,” she points out. “You have to love being
outdoors even with the freezing temperatures. You have to love being airborne.
You have to love being on skis for the amount of time we train. You have to want
to go far in the sport, otherwise you won’t.”
Gaudette definitely has an abundance of passion. Drive? She’s proven that
with a courageous move at such a young age to pursue a dream that puts her well
on her way to reaching her goal of competing in the 2018 and 2022 Winter
Olympics. As for winter-heartiness, well, she’s from Maple Grove. She’s got that
one mastered, too. //
Only one American female has medaled in Olympic aerial skiing since the event
began. Watch out 2018!
Elle Gaudette’s daily schedule Mon.–Sat.
7:45–8:45 a.m. Warm up
9–noon Water ramping/jumping session No. 1
Noon–2 p.m. Lunch and recover/rest
1–4 p.m. On snow jumping at aerial site (in winter)
2–4 p.m. Water ramping/jumping session No. 2
4–5:30 p.m. Conditioning/trampoline/ stretch
5:30–6 p.m. Dinner
6–9 p.m. School
10:45 p.m. Curfew