Team Summit mogul skiers Evelyn Harris, Jackson True excel at junior nationals
Pair of 16-year-olds targeting NorAm circuit next season
Team Summit head FIS mogul coach Zak Watkins knew 2020-21 would be a special season for Evelyn Harris and Jackson True months before the official on-snow campaign began.
He realized it when he saw each athlete’s commitment to the winter sports club’s strength and conditioning program and summer training opportunities.
The two mogul skiers did all of the little things away from snow — from dryland training to lifting weights to water ramps — to round out their form heading into what they knew would be an uncertain and unprecedented season during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It turned out the regional mogul circuit was pretty close to normal for Team Summit’s mogul athletes. And the season was such a success for Harris and True that Watkins said the athletes have progressed their skiing skills as well as — if not better than — they would have in a more normal season void of COVID-19. For True and Harris, that culminated with each skier finishing in the top 10 at junior nationals at the Utah Olympic Park near Park City.
“These two athletes especially skied well,” Watkins said. “They stayed focused, kept on the task at hand, and they weren’t deterred by the world issues we’re dealing with. It was just good to see that they could keep it going.”
Watkins said he and Team Summit’s moguls program coached True, Harris and other skiers to build through the season before peaking at the end. For True, that meant continuing to improve his new inverted cork 720-degree spin that he executed on the top jump at mogul competitions.
Watkins said True, 16, learned and incorporated the trick to keep up with what the top level of skiers his age are doing. The coach credited Copper Mountain Resort for providing an ideal mogul skiing venue on the Ore Deal run to help skiers like True dial in tricks, like the cork 720. True previously was attempting a back flip with a truck driver grab — both hands on both front ski tips — before learning the cork 720.
With the cork 720 in his arsenal, True finished ninth at the invite-only junior nationals for the nation’s best skiers 18 and younger. He then finished 23rd overall thanks to a clean run at U.S. nationals against the country’s best, including members of the U.S. Ski Team, at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah.
True said executing the cork 720 out of the course’s top air meant he had to be more prepared and more dynamic with his landing leading into the course’s middle section of bumps. As for his trick on the course’s bottom jump, a back X, True focused on throwing it much bigger than he did last year.
Watkins estimated True was landing his back X — an inversion with crossed skis — 16 meters down the hill.
“And a good 8-10 meters in the air,” Watkins said.
Heading into the offseason, True said he would like to add another spin to his cork 720 and clean up the form on his cork inversion, as well. If he’s able to, he’d also like to add a grab to the trick.
As for his skiing through the bumps in between jumps, True said he knows skiing clean is one of his strengths, so now he just has to maintain that form while skiing faster through his line. He and Watkins think added physical strength will help with that and could help him qualify for a new level of competition at NorAm events — one notch below the World Cup — featuring the continent’s best.
Harris recovered from a slow start at U.S. selections at Winter Park to finish eighth and earn her way to junior nationals. At junior nationals, the 16-year-old finished in fifth place thanks to consistent, clean skiing.
This summer, Harris wants to fine-tune her back full trick, a move where the takeoff is initiated upward and backward, which starts a primary rotation on the horizontal axis. An additional vertical axis of rotation is then initiated with the upper body. The upper and lower body then extend straight.
Harris wants to stomp the trick this summer at Mount Hood in Oregon, where she, like True, wants to improve her ability to lace runs at higher speeds. And she also has her sights set on NorAms.
For now, Watkins is just proud each athlete helped Team Summit’s mogul group win the Rocky Mountain Division’s Team Spirit award.
“The award is based on what other teams see and who’s supporting other teams and building up others around them,” Watkins said.
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