Photo by Peter Hauke ‘15
Connor Kennedy, a junior on the Lafayette club ski team, has made the transition this past year from downhill to freestyle. As a first year freestyle competitor, he finished fourth in the league and third at the regional championship. Kennedy will be competing in the USCSA National Championship from March 9-14 at Lake Placid.
How old were you when you started skiing and where did you first learn?
I was five years old when I started skiing and I started at Bretton Woods in New Hampshire because one of my family friends used to have a house up there. We went on one of our yearly visits and figured we could stay, see family, and go skiing, and that’s how I learned.
Why did you make the transition this year to freestyle from downhill?
I started mostly because I’m better at it. I only started downhill racing in high school and I was decent, but I’ve really always loved hitting jumps and doing tricks. I’ve gotten pretty good at it. This year, my brother is a freshman in college, and we went to my Vermont house over winter break and skied everyday. I got a lot better at it, so I figured that I could be a competitor rather than just a backup [to downhill].
How is skiing at the collegiate level different from skiing in high school?
It’s different in high school because in high school you don’t have as many commitments so I was able to practice four or five days a week and now it’s more of an afterthought. I love it, it’s one of my passions, so I will make time for it, but I get most of my skiing in over winter break. I pretty much only come to competitions for ski team; I don’t do all of the practices because it’s too much to balance. It’s a similar feel though because of the team spirit. As much as you want to do well for yourself, you’re also rooting for the team; everybody gets along really well. I never thought I would like competing until I did it. I didn’t think I would like competing individually, but to have friends on the team, it’s a lot of fun.
What are your post-graduate plans with respect to skiing?
If I have time, I was thinking about racing after college but I’ve already gotten out of that. If I could find some kind of casual league that would do slopestyle and stuff like that I would probably try to compete. It depends on this year to next year how good I get. If I can progress a little bit further I could, but as of right now I don’t really think I am good enough to take it anywhere else.
What is the best and worst thing about freestyle?
The best thing about freestyle is pushing your limits and getting over your fears. Whenever I have to hit a new jump or throw a new trick, it’s always a little scary, but the feeling you get when you accomplish it is awesome. The thing that I don’t like about it is that the better you get the more you’re going to fall and the harder you’re going to fall. It’s not fun getting hurt and that’s the downside to it.
Since skiing is such an individual event, what is the team atmosphere like?
We all travel together, so you might get to know someone sitting next to them in the car and then you’re living with them basically every weekend. You get to know everybody in that sense. When you’re skiing around, you just pump each other up. We like to talk ourselves up and pump each other up, that’s kind of the team dynamic.
Who has influenced your skiing the most?
I know this is a generic answer, but Tom Wallisch. He’s just so good and he looks so smooth all the time. He’s super laid back and has the mindset that I like when it comes to skiing.
Favorite Mountain: Killington
Favorite Movie: Stash
Favorite Food: T-bone Steak
Favorite Season: Winter