Olympic dreams: 12-year-old downhill ski racer goes big on local slopes

Luge and snowboarding, skiing and skating — get ready for cold-weather speed and skill at the 2018 Winter Olympics, this February 9 – 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

As Team USA gears up for its first races down snowy mountains and across icy rinks, we spoke with five young  Olympic hopefuls from Central PA and asked them about their gold-medal dreams.

Today’s young athlete is downhill ski racer Rhiannon Lubaszewski, the 2017 Pennsylvania Alpine Racing Association’s U12 State Champion for the giant slalom and slalom


Photo: Elaine Gates Photography

Rhiannon Lubaszewski
Age: 12
School: Shallow Brook Intermediate in Northeastern School District, sixth grade
Member of Ski Roundtop Racing Club (SRRC); competes with U14 Devo Competition Team; practices at Roundtop Mountain Resort
Coach: Diann Roffe

How did you get started in downhill skiing?
I got involved at the age of 2. My parents tell me that I was able to ski better than I could walk.

What do you like most about your sport?
When I’m on the hill I feel so overjoyed by the feeling of snow under my skis and the wind on my face. Most of all, I love being with friends, my teammates, and getting to share the experience with them.

What kind of equipment do you use in your sport?
I have Fischer slalom skis, Atomic giant slalom skis, and Salomon twin tip skis for everyday use. I wear an FIS Briko helmet and have 2 Spyder speed suits. I have two sets of poles; Leki giant slalom poles and Swix slalom poles.

What is a skill that you enjoy doing?
Cross-blocking gates. This skill is used in the slalom discipline when you are slashing through the gates. It helps with quicker movement from pole to pole and with a combination of quick feet, a racer can really improve on their time down the hill.

What is a new skill you are working on?
Tip to tail skiing. What makes this hard is when I go around the turn, I have to be in the front of my boots, but then when I’m transitioning turns, I am challenged to not put as much pressure at the front of the boot.

Tell us about one of your favorite competitions.
When I went to New Hampshire for the Piche’s race. I got to race against people from all different states on the East Coast. This event was at Gunstock Ski Resort and was absolutely beautiful. I also have to say that I had a pretty good time winning the U12 state championship last season at my home mountain, Roundtop Mountain Resort.

Who is someone you admire in your sport?
I admire Micaela Shiffrin because she is a well-rounded skier and she always strives to get better on her next run.

What’s your athlete’s motto?
My motto is “to go big or stay home!” My coaches always encourage me to “go get it.” They want us to be the best athletes that we could be. I couldn’t be the skier I am without their support and encouragement.

What are your long-term goals in downhill ski racing?
To become a member of the U.S. Ski Team and go to the Olympics.

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Olympic dreams: Teenage snowboarder races to Nationals and beyond

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