High Expectation: From before she can remember, junior has chased a need to ski

By: Nathan Hoy

The two long, narrow skis cut back and forth down the mountain, barely missing the red and blue gates that overlay the snow-covered mountainside. Working hard to be as efficient as possible and keep her balance, junior Kenzie Roberts only has one goal in mind: get down to the bottom of the mountain as fast as physically possible.

The cold rips through her GS suit that consists of nothing but spandex and padding. Roberts’ mind however is not focused on the cold, nor the possibility of clipping a gate and getting seriously injured. Instead, her mind is fixed on beating the competition and creating a personal record for herself.

Roberts has been competitive downhill skiing since before she can even remember, literally. Waiting only 365 days into her life, Robert’s parents had her on the slopes the second she knew how to stand on her own.

Her father learned to ski in college, but instead of competing down the slopes, he played hockey growing up. His father then told him about skiing and what it can actually entail, which peaked his interest greatly. He continued to receive all the levels of certification for instructing possible.

He met his wife in college. She too loved to ski, and from that point on, skiing was a no brainer for the Roberts family and the family members soon to come. Their first daughter was born and was quickly taught to ski. Five years later, Kenzie was born, and the family of skiers was complete.

Her father then decided to start coaching because of his kids. After six years of vigourous training and preparing, Roberts started competing against actual competition at the age of seven. Her dad was the assistant coach and very good friends with the head coach, which is how the competing all started. Three years later when Roberts was 10, her dad took over and became the head coach.

Roberts is a part of the Chestnut Mountain Race Team. They compete through an association called the WIJARA. This association consists of a bunch of teams from different ski resorts such as Cascade and Sundown. They are split into different age groups such as under 16, under 18 and under 20. These different groups of racers then compete and race against each other.

Once December hits, Roberts doesn’t exactly know much else besides skiing. “I train Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t exactly get to do too much else in the winter time,” Roberts said while shaking her head and laughing. “Come December, Chestnut Mountain is all I know.”

During the two- to three-hour-long practices, the skiers exercise different drills just like in any other sport to strengthen the things they need in a race. They also do gate run throughs to ensure a fast start out of the gate. Roberts races every other weekend starting in December and going until February.

In downhill skiing, there are two different types of races. There is the GS (giant slalom) and the slalom. In GS racing, the athlete will go left around the gate and then go wide right around another. In slalom racing, there are two separate races, and it’s a little more complicated. The turns are shorter, and the combinations of “left” and “right” also have flushes thrown in there, which are when two gates close together causing a very quick sequence. Usually, Roberts races the giant slalom on Saturday and the slalom on Sundays.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 12.21.04 PMRoberts’ face glowed with excitement as she began to explain her race day. “I wake up at 6, and course inspection starts at 8,” Roberts said. “Course inspection is where we go through the course and see where we’ll be turning and stuff like that so we know what it looks like.”

When the age group is called, the girls all line up and wait for their starting time. When it’s their turn, they will then go into the race gate, and the people in charge of the races will tell them to go when they are ready. The athlete will race down the mountain side three different times. The first two times are combined into one time, and the third run is timed on its own. All together, there ends up only really being two races.

“I love the adrenaline you get while racing. It’s pretty indescribable,” Roberts said with a huge grin, “but the thrill of racing is exciting and something to work towards, and something that encourages you to get better. You’re always trying to get better.”

At the end of her third and final race on a recent weekend, she packed up her skis and prepared to head back to Cedar Falls, where things aren’t quite as thrilling as the slopes she’s used to flying down; however, she can’t help but love the idea that she gets to turn around and do it all over again in less than two days, continuing the never ending process of getting faster, smarter and over all falling more in love with the beautiful mountain side that has become more of a home than any sheltered building she’s ever lived in.

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