Ski Club Spotlight: Team Summit’s Ellie Duchow, Team Breck’s Jake Lau, Noah Begley and Katy Kropatsch
Editor’s note: This is Part Three of a three-part series featuring local ski club athletes. Read on for Part One with Summit Nordic Ski Club and Part Two with alpine athletes from Team Summit, Team Breck and Loveland Ski Club.
It’s almost absurd how good ski club athletes are these days.
At younger than 16 years old, four of the most promising snowboarders, freeskiers and alpine racers with Team Summit and Team Breckenridge are already leaving a mark on the competition circuit. There’s 14-year-old Ellie Duchow, a newcomer to Team Summit (and Summit County) who dominated snowboard halfpipe and slopestyle competitions on the West Coast last season. Then, there’s 15-year-old Noah Begley, a Team Breck freeskier who was born and bred in Summit and, now, competes in the insanely competitive Open division — long before he’s eligible for a driver’s license.
And that’s just a taste of the talent on the local teams. For the final installment in our ski club preview, we talked with four up-and-coming athletes from every corner of the snowsports world.
Ellie Duchow | Team Summit snowboard
Ellie Duchow might be new to Team Summit, but she’s hardly new to the snowboard scene. Last season, at 13 years old, she took fourth in the USASA Nationals rail jam at Copper Mountain for her age group (girls 10-13) after a full season of first and second-place finishes in slopestyle, superpipe and boardercross at West Coast mountains like Mount Bachelor, Mount Hood Meadows and Boreal Mountain. It was a huge turnaround from the previous season, when she went undefeated at small Raging Buffalo ski area in Illinois and yet barely cracked the top-20 at Nationals.
Now, at 14 years old, the freshman at Summit High School brings a natural gift for all things snowboarding to Team Summit’s freestyle program, led by longtime coach Matty Voegtle. Duchow moves into the youth women category for the first time this season and is hoping for more of the same: dominance.
My first riding memory: The first time I went snowboarding was at this little “mountain” in Wisconsin called Wilmot. It is actually a landfill. Vail (Resorts) company just purchased it. I fell in love with snowboarding my first run.
My first competition memory: In Illinois at Raging Buffalo in Algonquin. I had a blast.
Ski club highlight: Receiving fourth place at USASA Nationals at Copper Mountain.
My biggest goal for the season: Just to have fun, like always.
Favorite place to train: Copper Mountain or Mount Bachelor (in Oregon).
When I’m not competing…: My favorite place to ride is Mount Bachelor.
My on-snow heroes: My previous coaches, Alex Scagliotti or Justin Schoonover.
Favorite off-snow sport: Other than snowboarding, I really like field hockey and soccer.
Pre-comp meal: My favorite meal before a contest is pancakes.
Tuning secret: I like to wax my board very thoroughly.
My pre-run ritual: My one superstition is when someone calls “last run.”
Shout-outs: I would like to thank my sponsors: Bark and Wag Carvers, GoGo Squeez, Sims Snowboards, Giro, POW Gloves, Blackstrap Inc., SnoPlanks and Dang Shades.
Noah Begley | Team Breckenridge freeski
Remember this name. At 15 years old, Summit County native Noah Begley is already competing in the tough-as-nails Open class for freestyle skiing, which pits him against the best of the best from across the country — with no age limit. He often competes against skiers in their late teens with several more years of skiing experience, but it’s hardly had an impact on his results. If anything, it’s made him fight harder: At 2016 USASA Nationals in Copper, he placed 12th overall from a pool of more than 100 competitors. This year, the Summit High School sophomore and five-year Team Breck veteran hopes for more of the same — or better.
My first skiing memory: The first time I went skiing was through Kinderhut when I was about 2 years old. I fell in love with skiing and the mountain right away.
My first competition memory: When I was around 12 years old. I competed in slopestyle in Vail and thought the whole experience was exhilarating.
Ski club highlight: My biggest accomplishment in skiing was last year in Copper at the USASA Nationals. I got 12th place competing against close to 100 other kids in my age group.
My biggest goal for the season: To be able to perform a double-cork 1080 and a switch double rodeo 900.
Favorite place to train: Breckenridge, Colorado. It is not only my hometown, but it has one of the best parks in the world. I feel so blessed.
When I’m not competing…: I love skiing big mountain. There is so much more terrain to ski — the freedom I feel is incredible.
My on-snow hero: Bobby Brown is my No. 1 skiing hero because he is also a Breckenridge local and a very accomplished skier. He always goes out of his way to be kind to me and others on the mountain.
Favorite off-snow sport: Lacrosse. It’s high intensity and a hard sport.
Pre-comp meal: I don’t usually eat a certain thing before a competition, but if I had to choose one snack it would be dried mangos.
Pump-up music: Rap is my favorite type of music to get me pumped before a run.
Tuning secret: Usually before a competition I try to get my skis tuned at Mountain Wave so I can have maximum performance the next day.
My pre-run ritual: I do not have any pre-rituals or superstitions before a competition. I just go for it.
Jake Lau | Team Breckenridge alpine
Funny how fast time flies. Not long ago, Summit native Jake Lau was taking runs down his driveway in Silverthorne on a pair of kiddie skis. Today, at 14 years old, the freshman at Summit High School is one of the most promising alpine racers with Team Breck. He joined only two years ago, but since then, he’s made the podium at several competitions and now has his sights set on qualifying for the U-16 National Championships. It might be his first season in the age class division, but he’s confident in his training and ability. This year could be the one.
My first skiing memory: The first time I skied was when I was 1-and-a-half years old down my driveway on Ptarmigan Mountain and have loved skiing ever since then.
My first competition memory: The first time I competed was racing against my dad in a Nastar course.
Ski club highlight: My experiences at the regional championships in winter park. I was very happy with how I placed, as I could really see my improvement from the previous year.
My biggest goal for the season: To qualify for U-16 Nationals. I am very happy with my preseason training and feel that if I work very hard I will be able to reach this goal.
Favorite place to train: I love training on Cimarron at Breckenridge, which was a World Cup venue at one point.
When I’m not competing…: When I am freeskiing I enjoy skiing the south side of Peak 10 and hitting mustang jump.
My on-snow heroes: My coaches, including Chuck and Chelsea Roth, because they work very hard to help me and are amazing people.
Favorite off-snow sport: I enjoy playing lacrosse and water skiing.
Pre-race meal: I eat spaghetti with a protein like chicken.
Pump-up music: Before a ski run I usually don’t listen to music, but when I do I listen to Tupac.
Tuning secret: Before races I add more wax layers on my skis.
My pre-run ritual: Before races I also go through the same warm-up, and my coach puts snow down my back to wake me up.
Katy Kropatsch | Team Breckenridge alpine
Think pros are the only skiers who battle injuries? Think again. For the end of last season (and most of early summer), 16-year-old Katy Kropatsch was sidelined with her first major injury since joining Team Breck about seven years ago. This season, the junior at Summit High School is healthy, happy and itching to burst back onto the U-19 scene.
My first skiing memory: The first time I went skiing was at Keystone when I was 4 or 5. All I remember was my instructor at the time made us skate around with one ski on and I kept asking when we would go on “the big chairlift” (Peru Express lift).
My first competition memory: I first competed when I was 8 or 9 at Copper Mountain. I competed in the GS and I was really slow, like a turtle.
Ski club highlight: Having the opportunity to travel to Austria to ski with Team Breckenridge. We went to a glacier called Hintertux and I was able to ski among some of the best ski racers in the world.
My biggest goal for the season: This season I’m looking forward to start training again. I’ve been off snow for a while with an injury so I’m happy to be back doing what I love.
Favorite place to train: Cimarron in Breckenridge. When we train super-G on that run it’s incredible and challenging for every racer.
When I’m not competing…: I love just freeskiing anywhere. At Breck I love skiing off Imperial, T-bar and hiking up Peak 6.
My on-snow hero: Probably the individuals on the Austrian team, including Marcel Hirscher, Eva-Maria Brem and Anna Veith. They are all such incredible skiers and I want to ski like them.
Favorite off-snow sport: I don’t do many sports outside of skiing but I enjoy surfing, swimming and being in the ocean.
Pre-race meal: I don’t have a favorite meal — I eat anything and everything. My favorite cuisine to eat is Thai.
Pump-up music: I love listening to Fall Out Boy and Muse. “Time is Running Out” is my favorite pump-up song by Muse.
Tuning secret: Can’t reveal the secrets, sorry.
My pre-run ritual: I have lucky socks, and the night before a race I jump on my bed and visualize a racecourse.
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