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Photo ofCameron Littlefield

The first time I did a 360 on skis I honestly wasn't scared. I was in 4th grade and had never gotten hurt skiing, so I had nothing to fear. All I did was turn around but in the air. As a 4th grader you don’t think of what might happen. How, if while turning mid-air your skis might tip down, and that you would be done. And how that would whip you down and you would land on your head first, and if your helmet is loose it won’t do anything to protect your head. Or how the people behind you won’t see that you fell and they will land right on you. It's been a few years and I have fallen and gotten hurt a decent amount, so naturally, I am not as confident. By all means I’m a good skier. I can do jumps, moguls, and ski in all conditions. 

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On the top of the mountain, I looked down at the trail and planned my route: 360 off the first jump to 90 onto the box and land switch. I turned and went towards that hill of snow and ice, ready to launch myself off, but I chickened out and told myself it would be better to just do a normal jump. It's a good thing I did because the smooth, groomed snow they always have was gone. It was just slick hard ice. Knowing these new conditions and not wanting to give up, I tried again. This time, looking over the trail, I mapped out my route again. There were three kids in front of me who went first. One practically stopped on the jump, the second actually did stop, and the third went as fast as he could and tried to do a grab and almost got it, but he wasn't going fast enough. 

To add a little flare to my run, I flicked my skis and they clapped against the snow, making a loud noise, grabbing the attention of people close by. I pushed off to make sure I got enough speed to fly off and make my full rotation. My dad went behind me and off to the side so as to not be in the way, but to see everything unfold. The jump got closer and closer. I was going faster and faster, the wind whistled by my helmet. I bent my knees just enough to explode off the jump. I pushed off and turned my body. 

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Everything is in slow motion. I can see the people on the chairlift to my left, I grab the back of my right ski. Now I'm backwards and I can see the people behind me looking at me. I pull the back of my ski closer to me so I stay upright. I let go as the ground starts to come closer and my skis are facing almost forward. The ground is just a foot away and I finish the turn and I feel snow beneath my feet. As I land, a feeling of accomplishment washes over me. I am proud of myself -- I pushed myself and it paid off.  

© Cameron Littlefield. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.