Hidden Valley Is Home To One Of The Newest Additions To The US Ski Development Team
We sat down with Ainsley Proffit to see what drives her passion, her fondest memories at Hidden Valley, and how she went from talking her parents into racing at Hidden Valley after school to racing on the World Cup circuit.
Do you remember your first day on the snow?
I was two years old the first time I went skiing. My family and I would take a vacation up to Michigan around Christmas time every year. I don’t remember exactly what was going through my mind at that time, but growing up I always loved the thrill of shooting down the ski hill.
When did you realize you had a talent for racing?
When I was five I convinced my parents to take me out to Colorado. I wanted to ski the gigantic mountains I always heard tons about. Taking my first run down the long slope is where my hobby turned into my passion. I remember looking up at this huge mountain and being a little bit intimidated but mostly excited. After completing my first run, it felt like I conquered a little bit of the world, and I have never gotten sick of that feeling.
What drives you to compete?
Throwing your body down a slope as fast as you can with 2x4’s strapped to your feet sounds a little crazy to most people. I’ve always loved that feeling. Racing down a ski course is a lot of fun, but can also be frightening at times. In competition, it is not only about the strongest racer physically, but also the toughest racer mentally. Pushing through those mental boundaries that tell you to slow down or that you are on the verge of out of control is probably one of the hardest things to do in ski racing. That being said, coming down the mountain during a race and knowing you pushed those barriers is extremely exhilarating. I’ve yet to find a feeing like that in any of the other sports I have competed in.
Who introduced you to the sport?
My family introduced me to skiing, but Dave Coulter, the head of the Hidden Valley Ski Team at the time, introduced me to racing. I was racing at NASTAR Nationals, a public race series, when I first met Dave. I had placed 3rd in the race that day, after I stepped off the podium, Dave approached me, telling me all about the Hidden Valley Ski Team. I was elated to find out there was a legitimate ski hill in Missouri. That turned into me begging my parents to join, and soon enough I was spending every day after school skiing down the slopes of Hidden Valley.
Best memories of Hidden Valley?
My absolute favorite thing about Hidden Valley is the night skiing. I remember rushing out of my classroom doors hopping into my Mom’s car and yelling at her to drive faster so I could get on the snow ASAP. Once I got to the slopes I would always look out into the distance and see the Arch illuminated in the night and surrounded by stars. Most people who go to Hidden Valley never realize the view of the Arch in the distance, but that’s what makes Hidden Valley special.
Plans for the future?
This is my first year being a part of the US Ski Ream. This is a big step in my racing career, but I still have a long ways to go. This year I will be racing the NorAm (North American) circuit. It consists of all the top racers Canada and The United States; sometimes even the best of Europe come over to compete with us. The next step for me is to start racing on the World Cup circuit. The World Cup has the best racers from all over. The races are held every year with majority taking place in Europe. My ultimate goal is to compete in the Winter Olympics. Ever since I was about eight I’ve dreamt of being on the top of that podium in front of all the world. Representing my country at the Olympics has always been a dream of mine.
What are you most looking forward to being a part of the US Ski Team?
The US Ski Team is a really cool environment to work in. You can see in the work ethic of my team members that they all share the same passion for skiing. It’s also really neat to have a team with people who come from all different regions in the States.
What would you say to people thinking about learning how to ski at Hidden Valley?
To anyone thinking about going to Hidden Valley to learn to ski I say do it! Skiing is a great sport for all ages, and offers a great time for families. While you’re skiing at Hidden Valley, you must check out the NASTAR course. It’s such a fun race held there every weekend. I took hundreds of runs on that course; it’s one of the things that got me hooked on racing.
Midwestern eve leagues are one of the best race experiences a kid could ask for. It’s a perfect way to enter the sport. Races are always held in a very fun environment. About every other week, my family would pack the car with all of my ski equipment and then take off to my race for the weekend. Those little weekend race trips became mini vacations. It’s always been a blast hanging out with my family and my competitors.
What do you do to train in the summer?
In the summer, I travel around the world searching for snow to train on. I am usually skiing on glaciers in Europe or down on the slopes in the Southern Hemisphere during the moths of June and August. However, I get to stay home in July. I spend most of my time working out in the gym while home. Skiing requires a lot of strength and raw power, along with agility and endurance, so the more hours I put in the gym means the better I’ll be able to ski on the snow.
And your favorite dessert?
My favorite dessert is hands down a scoop of frozen custard.