Athletes of the Month: February

SVSEF athletes of the month are selected collectively by program directors, based on successful athletic performance in competition. Luke Rizzo, a skier with the mogul travel team, and Jessica Blackburn, a member of the alpine IMD team, are the athletes of the month for February.


© Glen Allison

LUKE RIZZO

Luke Rizzo, 17, is a skier on the mogul travel team. He is currently the third ranked junior (18 and under) in the Intermountain region, the 12th junior in the country, and 16th overall in the country (excluding U.S. team members). He has skied to a couple first places finishes this season, and took sixth and seventh at the Intermountain Division Championships in moguls and duals in February. Luke competed in his first NorAm last week in Park City; this is the level of competition that falls directly below World Cups, with high-caliber athletes from all over the world. Last week, there were skiers from Japan, Australia, Russia, Korea, Canada and Germany, and many of them have recently skied on the World Cup circuit. Also competing were a few athletes currently on the U.S. team. “I was extremely happy to see all his hard work throughout the season pay off,” said Mogul Technical Director John Grigsby. “Just getting the invitation to ski with the25 top-ranked athletes in the U.S. is a huge.” Luke is currently in Park City for Junior Nationals, where he has good chance of standing on the podium.

Jessica Blackburn, the overall winner at last weekend’s qualifier.

JESSICA BLACKBURN

Jessica, 13, has had a fantastic season thus far, winning four races, including two in the last qualifier in Park City. Her wins last weekend propelled her to the overall award for the weekend, making her the first IMD girl to qualify for U14 Western Region Junior Championships in Jackson Hole. In addition, Jessica has been a model athlete this season, coming to training every day with an incredible level of focus. She pushes to get as many runs as she possibly can, communicates well with coaches, and is a great teammate to her peers. Due to her terrific effort this past season, Jessica has learned quite a bit about the reward of hard work and encourages her to passionately pursue ski racing. As a SVSEF IMD staff, we are very proud of her.

– Head Coach James Tautkus


ALSO MAKING WAVES: KEVIN BOLGER

Cross country Gold Team skier Kevin Bolger turned heads at his World Cup debut on March 3, and with good reason. The former University of Utah skier, who joined the Gold Team last year, walked away at the end of the day in eleventh place in the skate sprint in Lahti, Finland. Bolger jetted over to Europe when he was selected to ski the World Cup circuit, based on his top spot on the North American-based SuperTour circuit. Dubbed “the surprising man,” by the Norwegian announcers, because he had virtually come out of nowhere, Kevin led the American men, and topped a number of international competitors who have plenty of experience racing at the World Cup and Olympic level. Not bad, for a first go – congratulations to Kevin, and we can’t wait to see what he does from here.

Kevin, second from left. Photo: Ophira Group, via FasterSkier

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