Kaitlynn Sockett isn't afraid of a little speed. In fact, she craves it.
"My favorite events are downhill and super G, for sure," she said. "The speed events."
It's this speed that aids Sockett, an aspiring alpine racer, in her competitive races and that she hopes will eventually make her a name in the sport.
So far, she's had a good start.
A Breckenridge native, the soon-to-be 17-year-old has spent the past year training and racing throughout the United States and Europe. In February, she spent two weeks in Switzerland before traveling to Germany and Austria.
"There were some really good races over there, but we also got some cool training opportunities," Sockett said.
She particularly remembers spending some time skiing with the German men's Europa Cup team as well as the Austrian women's World Cup team.
Sockett was lucky enough to be able to stay with a German family while she was there, getting a feel for authentic German life.
"It's a bit different than here in Summit," she said.
The travel aspect itself was great, Sockett said, though this year she focused more on the skiing than the sightseeing.
"I went (to Europe) last year too and that was the year I was more of a tourist," she said. "This year was more about the skiing."
With such a demanding training and racing schedule, Sockett turned to online study to keep up with her academics. Another challenge is spending time away from her family.
"I like it," the young skier said about traveling. "There are some days where I just want to be home with my family and friends, but then other days I get to go out and ski in awesome places and that makes it all worth it."
Her family also finds the separation hard.
"It's really good to know that she gets the opportunity to go to Europe, but I do miss having her around," said her mother, Lisa Sockett. "At the same time, it's definitely helped her skiing and this has been a goal, to be an elite skier, that she's had for a long time. As long as we can support her, we're going to keep trying."
Kaitlynn Sockett has been involved with skiing for about as long as she can remember.
"I started skiing when I was 2 and I started racing when I was 8," Sockett said. She hasn't looked back since.
While she loves the speed events, she trains and races in all four alpine disciplines. This season, she won two gold medals in FIS downhill races, then placed sixth in super G at the U18 National Championships. Sockett also qualified for the U.S. National Championships in Squaw Valley, Calif., though she did not attend the event, choosing instead to keep training.
Her next event will take place on her home turf in Breckenridge from Monday through Thursday.
"I've had some good results, especially in speed, so I've been happy," she said of her 2012-13 season. She added that she's looking forward to skiing in Breckenridge. "For the races coming up, I learned a lot over in Europe in my training, so I want to try and race like I've been training and be put into some difficult hill situations and see how that goes."
She hopes that her performance in Breckenridge will lower her points and improve her overall rankings.
Sockett's family is just happy that she's home, even if just for a little while.
"It's great to have her back when she's here," Lisa Sockett said.
Sockett's younger sister also skies, and Sockett said the two of them will occasionally hit the slopes together to relax and have fun.
To other young athletes who think they may also want to pursue skiing like Sockett, she has a little advice to offer.
"It's a really good sport to learn a bunch of lessons that are important. I'd say, go out and try it because it's really fun," she said. "It's hard work but it definitely pays off. Skiing is pretty awesome. We live in a great place to do it, so why not?"