This article was originally published by Austin Colbert in The Aspen Times.
Cassidy Jarrell Among Big Winners at AVSC's Annual Awards Banquet
Once upon a time, Cassidy Jarrell may have lacked confidence. Although, it's difficult to remember when that was, as the winter season he just had certainly sent Aspen's young freestyle skier to another level.
"His confidence has grown immensely," said Greg Ruppel, Jarrell's freeride coach at the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. "At the start of the season the goals were to podium those two national events. By mid-season the skiing was starting to come around."
Jarrell, 17, was arguably the most accomplished athlete for the AVSC this winter. He won both the USSA junior national championship and the USASA national championship in the halfpipe, and was a member of the U.S. freeskiing World Championships team, where he took fifth in the halfpipe.
Thursday at Belly Up Aspen, Jarrell's season culminated with him receiving the Andy Mill award at the AVSC's annual awards banquet. Considered the most prestigious individual award the organization hands out, it goes to an athlete who has achieved outstanding national or international results.
"My coaches helped get me so far and I just think it's been the best season and I can't complain," Jarrell said. "In freestyle skiing it takes you awhile to actually be comfortable, to know you actually have the skill to do the tricks. And this year I was really comfortable with that and was trying really hard every day and it worked out."
Hoping for only the podium, Jarrell's first national title came March 19 in Sun Valley, Idaho, at the USSA Freestyle and Freeskiing Jr. Nationals. As he was driving to that competition, before his national title, he received the email that named him one of only four men's halfpipe athletes the U.S. was sending to Crans-Montana, Switzerland, March 25-26 to compete at junior worlds.
Then, last weekend, Jarrell capped off his season with another national title at the USASA national event at Copper Mountain.
"He's been putting in solid work on his fundamentals. It's all starting to come together," Ruppel said. "It was more just really nice to get the invite (to worlds). It was kind of a stepping stone for him to be looked at a little bit more for the U.S. team and U.S. rookie team sort of stuff. Nice chance for him to start representing his country rather than just the local ski team."
The invite to worlds proved the U.S. national team certainly has its eyes on Jarrell, a high school junior. He's long idolized Aspen's two local ski halfpipe superstars — Torin Yater-Wallace and Alex Ferreira — saying Yater-Wallace even used to babysit him back in the day.
Jarrell is hoping his big season can boost him into an even stronger one next winter, where he hopes to compete on the Grand Prix level and possibly be part of the U.S. rookie team.
Catching up to Yater-Wallace and Ferreira on the international level comes after that.
"They are huge influences," Jarrell said. "I really want to make it on the U.S. rookie team, so I'm going to keep working as hard as I can."
'THE WINTER ABSOLUTELY BLEW BY FAST'
The AVSC handed out roughly 40 awards Thursday night at Belly Up, the event serving as a way to celebrate another successful season for the organization, which celebrated its 80th anniversary this winter.
"You grind at it all year and then all of a sudden spring hits and it's over," said AVSC Executive Director Mark Godomsky, who is finishing his first winter in the role after moving to Aspen from Maine last summer. "It's a great opportunity for the club, especially in its 80th year, but every year to wrap up the season and celebrate all the accomplishments, all the neat things kids do."
Awards were handed out for a myriad of accomplishments, from commitment, teamwork and integrity, to academics and excellence in competition, to recognizing the organization's standout coaches and volunteers.
The club also recognized its 19 graduating seniors.
With the 80th year in the past, Godomsky now looks toward the 81st — his second — and continuing the AVSC's long tradition.
"We still want to become the best in the country on the competitive side in all those sports," Godomsky said. "This club has got 80 years behind it. We are not redirecting it. We are just trying to improve on what we are doing and be more impactful for the local community."