Fallon skier racing toward Olympic dream
The slopes are bare and the skis put away, but that isn’t stopping one Fallon girl from her dreams of competing in the Olympics.
Even though the commute is long and tedious, Jordan Beyer’s spirit cannot be crushed. The 14-year-old Fallon girl’s chase to join the Junior Olympic Program started weeks ago, and she has the will to become one of the country’s best.
Beyer, an eighth-grader at Churchill County Middle School, finished her first season in April with the Squaw Valley Ski Team in the U16 division of Far West and skyrocketed through the ranks.
Lee Schmidt, a long-time coach for Far West, said Beyer’s meteoric rise is the result of her tenacious desire to become an Olympian and join the U.S. Ski Team following the footsteps of stars such as Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso.
Beyer competes in the downhill, slalom, super G and GS (giant slalom), although her favorite and most consistent event is the Super G where she can point her tips down and rip through the course.
“My goal has always been to make it to the U.S. Ski Team, and obviously, the Olympics,” Beyer said. “Next year, I am going to try to make it the Junior Olympics.”
Beyer finished the season ranked in the top 50 nationally in the GS and Super G out of about 1,000 girls. She also was an alternate for the Far West team for the Junior Olympic competition in Jackson Hole, Wyo., in March, the crème de la crème of U.S. youth skiing.
Only 21 skiers qualify for the Junior Olympic event and Beyer was the fourth alternate.
“She has made tremendous strides this season,” Schmidt said. “She didn’t have much racing experience this season at all. She barely missed making the junior championships for the Far West.”
When Beyer is able to hit the mountain, she goes hard all day. Her training consists of being on the slopes from 7 a.m.-noon and then an afternoon session from 1-3:30 p.m. on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.
In season during the week, Beyer travels to Reno several times for training.
“It takes a lot of dedication, especially for my parents (Kent and Jessica) because they drive me up every weekend,” Beyer said. “It helps a lot that they are into it.”
Her summer schedule, though, includes several ski camps at Mt. Hood in Oregon and one in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.
The physical training, meanwhile, doesn’t stop in summer, either. Beyer said her workouts consist of a lot of resistance work such as squat lifts and planks.
“It’s really hard and gets you tired,” she said.
Fear though, is a difficult feeling to overcome, especially racing down a mountain at up to speeds of 70 mph. In addition, some courses, such as the downhill, require a skier to hit a jump of 70-80 feet, land and keep on track.
“The jumps are pretty sketchy, actually,” Beyer said. “It’s really exciting, but it can be pretty scary if there is a big rut in the course.”
Schmidt, who has also had coaching stints with the U.S. Ski Team and has 35 years of coaching experience, said Beyer’s development is impressive considering the competitive nature of the program.
The Squaw Valley team is one of the top three teams in the country, and Beyer is quickly rising through the ranks. Schmidt, though, credits her work ethic and desire to overcome Beyer’s geographic disadvantage.
“She is very naturally talented girl. I expect her to make the Junior Olympic team next year,” Schmidt said. “She is just a weekend, holiday skier, and the majority of the kids she’s skiing against her full time, which means five to six days a week in the winter.”
The Junior Olympic team in the West features the best skiers from Nevada, California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.
“She’s very excited to make that team and compare herself against the other kids,” Schmidt said.
But Schmidt does not underestimate Beyer’s drive to reach her goals. Although Beyer cannot hit the mountains as much as her counterparts, her focus and willingness to learn has kept her competitive.
“It takes a family and a community to raise an athlete like that,” Schmidt said. “She takes full advantage of training and goes 100 percent. She closed the gap immensely from where she started the year.
She started 8 to 10 seconds out in each race, and by the end of the year, she was only 2 to 3 seconds out. That’s a huge development, and generally speaking, you only try to make up about 1 second per season. She did about five or six seasons in one year.”