Lauren Hanson, a 12-year old seventh grader at Prescott Middle School, said she’s never seen the mountains before.
When she travels to Colorado next week to take part in a regional ski competition, she’ll find Afton Alps is not quite the same as the Rockies. But she doesn’t mind.
“I can’t wait to see them, see how big they are and how far you have to ski down them,” Lauren said. “I’d love to see all the hills and ride the gondolas too.”
This may well be the first trip Hanson has partaken to the kind of ski hill where its year-around and way--up action rather than just the wintertime. But the smaller Midwest hills like Afton Alps, essentially part of the bluffs along the St. Croix River, has their advantages for developing skiiers like Hanson according to her mother Elsa.
“We know it’s going to be a big step up going against skiers from the West, the competition is very strong,” Elsa said. “But with hills like Afton Alps, you can actually watch the run from top to bottom. You can do more runs and it’s shorter to get back up the hill and go again.”
And it’s nearby, allowing Lauren to start skier when she was six years old, to competing with Afton Alps development team when she turned nine, to being a part of Team Afton, the hill’s U14 squad within in the USSA (United States Skiing Association).
Lauren qualified for the U14 Rocky-Central Junior Alpine Ski Championships, which will be held in Winter Park, Colorado next week. She is one of 25 girls in Central Region 1 - which includes the states of Minnesota, North Dakota, part of South Dakota and part of Illinois - qualified based on the top three out of six placements for qualifying races. The Championships will consist of the top skiers from the Rocky and Central regions competing in Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super G, and Kombie events.
Lauren’s best race is the Giant Slalom and her favorite as well
“I love going fast down a hill. It’s the adrenaline rush of it that’s the best part,” Lauren said.
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|Prescott's Lauren Hanson competing in a Giant Slalom race. Photo by Ann Nash Photography|