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Jordan Conrad, a freshman at Newtown High School, is not your average skier. Conrad takes on ultra-challenging terrain, catches air, and goes right on through/over, rather than around, what many would consider to be dangerous terrain on the mountain.
Conrad competes on the Mad River Glen Free Ski team in Waitsfield, Vt., as well as on the Ski The East Freeride Tour, traveling around New England in extreme skiing competitions. In mid-March, he went to Jay Peak in Vermont and won the Flyin Ryan Spirit Award. Ryan Hawks was a free skier who lost his life in a ski accident in Kirkwood, Calif. His parents started the Flyin Ryan foundation in his memory to promote sportsmanship and integrity in the free ski community. The award recognizes a skier who best exemplifies Hawks’s core principles as well as the positive qualities of free skiers.
“From the moment Jordan joined the team we knew he exemplified something special. Aside from being extremely athletically gifted, Jordan has a young heart with an old soul, he comprehends empathy and has more concern for those around him than he does for himself. These are some of the outstanding human qualities that I remember Ryan Hawks by,” said Conrad’s coach, Ry Young, who is Freeskiing Programs director at Mad River Glen.
Conrad makes his way down trails most recreational skiers would not describe as skiable. They are chosen for being steep, even having cliffs, frozen waterfalls, trees, rocks, and ice — and some man-made features. Conrad and his competitors take the most difficult way down, within their comfort zone, getting big air where they can, skiing in control, but basically showing off their skills.
These extreme skiers are judged in five categories: Line Choice, and high scores are given for choosing difficult routes; Control; Fluidity; Technique; and Style and Energy.
Conrad, 15, competed this year as a Junior for the last time, and he has qualified for the Adults division for the last three years. He’s finished on the podium, earning top-three placement many times in Junior competitions, and has earned top-ten finishes in the adult competitions.
A competitive skies since he was 8 years old, Conrad has been on the mountains since he was 2. This standout on the slopes rides with his family to Vermont every weekend from December through April, and usually take one or two trips out west or to Europe each year. The competition season continues for Conrad, who was invited to participate in the NorAm Free Sking Championships at Snowbird, Utah April 11-15.
Conrad has skied all over New England, Austria, Canada, and out West. In the summer, while there may be no opportunity to ski, Conrad is still hard at work keeping sharp; he trains on trampolines at the Green Mountain Training Center in Williston, Vt.