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Courtesy photos
ABOVE: Aiden Elizondo, 16, trained last year with Olympic and World Cup racers.

Hard work, fast times

City siblings endure tough training to become top skiiers

LEFT: Anya Elizondo, 12, competes in the slalom and giant slalom.

– Trying to get in touch with skiing stars Aiden and Anya Elizondo wasn’t as easy as one would think, even if the snow had almost completely melted in Fort Wayne.

It turned out the area’s skiiing stars were not in the Summit City. That’s not the way they work this time of year. They were in western New York.

And the work there is almost endless for them, as they pursue their dreams of becoming some of the best skiers in the world.

On Wednesday, they were in the snow, training from 9 a.m. to noon. Then they had their schoolwork (done at home and online) until 4:30 p.m. Dry-land training was until 5:15 p.m. Then it was back to the snow until 7:30 p.m. before a quick bite to eat and then more homework.

Aiden is 16 and Anya is 12.

“It’s a lot of work,” Aiden said. “Between the training and the independent schoolwork, it takes a lot. I’m pretty tired at the end of the day.”

Aiden and Anya share a commitment to the sport.

It requires them to leave their friends in Fort Wayne for more than three months out of the year, along with their mother, so they can train in New York.

“Yeah, it’s hard to leave home because I’m not with my friends,” Anya said, “but the great part is I get to ski.”

They share a love of skiing’s speed.

“The thing I like the best is going fast and the adrenaline rush you feel at the end of a course,” said Aiden, who started skiing when he was 3. “Mainly, it’s just the feeling you get when you are skiing.”

Added Anya, who began skiiing when she was 18 months old: “I really like going fast. It’s my favorite part.”

They share similar dreams: Aiden wants to make the U.S. ski team, so he can compete in World Cups, maybe the Olympics, and he hopes to ski in college, too; Anya also dreams of World Cup racing.

And they share the same quizzical looks from others in Indiana, who find out that they are not just skiers, but competitive skiers.

“A bunch of my friends ski but they don’t race,” said Anya, who also plays soccer and golf. “So it’s weird when we talk and they find out that I race.”

Aiden, who plays tennis, soccer and golf, echoed those sentiments.

“I haven’t met any other ski racers in Fort Wayne besides me and my sister, although there are a lot of people who ski (recreationally),” he said. “It’s nice to have (my sister with me) because it gives me a competitor and a competitive edge with someone else.”

Aiden trained last summer in Mount Hood, Ore., with a bevy of Olympic and World Cup racers, such as Ted Ligety, Andrew Weibrecht, Nolan Casper, and Phil and Steve Mahre. He’s coached by Peter Anderson, the current World Cup women’s technical coach.

Aiden is a mainstay in events run by the United States Ski & Snowboard Association and the Fédération Internationale de Ski, often racing against competitors older than he is in the slalom, giant slalom and Super G.

Anya also trained at Mount Hood and was one of eight girls invited to New York State Ski Racing Association’s preseason fundamentals camp at Lake Placid, N.Y. She competes in the slalom and giant slalom.

According to their father, Jim, who makes a weekly drive to New York with his son, Emmett, Aiden and Anya will spend more than 100 days on the slopes this season.

“It is pretty hard,” Anya said of the work involved, “but when you do well, it’s all worth it.”

jcohn@jg.net

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