In a region where there are many successful young, competitive skiers, Fairfield native Mac Forehand leads the pack. The 12-year old has become one of the best mogul and slopestyle skiers in his age group, and is ultimately hoping to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
Forehand, a sixth grader at Roger Ludlowe Middle School, joined the racing program at Stratton Mountain at a young age, and quickly distinguished himself through his jumping and mogul racing abilities. Thanks to his commitment to improving in these disciplines, Forehand has joined Stratton's freestyle racing program this year and began competing in mogul and slopestyle races in Vermont.
"By focusing on my tricks off jumps and bettering my speed during training, I've improved a ton at racing," Forehand said.
The hard work Forehand has put in with coaches Bruce Bolesky (moguls) and Brian Knowles (slopestyle) during training has certainly paid off, as Forehand has enjoyed excellent seasons in both disciplines.
In moguls, Forehand won five competitions in Vermont's EQS Central Region division 12-13-year-old age group before winning the Vermont State Championships on March 2. He then finished second in the Eastern Championships.
This season is the first time Forehand has competed in slopestyle (variety of difficult tricks with highest altitude). However, his inexperience has certainly not shown up on the leaderboard. Forehand won the three competitions he raced in the Southern Vermont Series's 10-12 age group, and finished in the top three in each competition in which he competed over the winter.
"Mac's scoring this season has put him on par with athletes who are 16 and 17 years old," Knowles said. "This is a testament to the commitment and hard work Mac puts in every time he wears a pair of skis."
Forehand is becoming accustomed to success.
"The best part of winning races is standing on top of the podium and receiving your gold medal," Forehand said. "It's extremely satisfying."
Forehand said that he is focused on continuing to improve his tricks in both disciplines and on rails in slopestyle. Steady improvement in these areas and others could allow Forehand to obtain his ultimate career goal.
"I want to qualify for the Olympics," he said. "I don't know when it could happen, but it would be a dream come true."
Danny Atkinson is a freelance reporter