Abe Studler, 17, is a competitive mogul skier and Olympic hopeful. He is more likely to be found training on the slopes than in the hallways of a public high school. There is no off season for Studler as he is either traveling to find snow during the summer months or clocking time in at the gym at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York.
Mogul skiing is a competition that requires a combination of speed and technique while skiing over bumps on the ski slope. The sport also requires performance of aerial maneuvers off the two jumps in the middle of the course. In order to keep up with other top-skiers, Studler commits any potential free time to training.
Originally from Brant Lake, New York, Studler started skiing when he was 18 months old at Gore Mountain Resort. By the time he was eight years old, he was competing in mogul skiing events at Whiteface Mountain. Now, Studler is a senior at Killington Mountain School (KMS), a ski academy in Vermont where class time is tailored around competitive skiers’ training and competition schedules.
Skiing has always been a massive part of Studler’s life. Before KMS, Studler was homeschooled and his father would bring him out skiing on the weekends and also a few days during the week. Since Studler’s freshman year at KMS, mogul skiing has almost completely consumed his life.
An average day for Studler begins at 7:00AM with a warm up in the gym and training on KMS’s trampolines where he practices tricks he will perform off the jumps in his mogul competitions. After a quick breakfast at 8:00, he is up on the mountain training with the ski team until noon. Between 1:00 and 6:00PM he attends classes that often have as few as one or two other students in order to accelerate the learning process. After a few hours of study hall, Studler is off to bed early in order to do it all again in the morning.
However, this rigorous schedule is only relevant when Studler is actually present at school. During the peak of the competition season, he travels all over the world to ski while he keeps up with schoolwork by emailing and video chatting with his teachers. One highlight of his travels includes a training trip to Tignes, France. Upon visiting the French Alps for the first time, Studler said, “[it was] incredible… you could see forever on top of these massive glaciers with nothing but snow for hundreds of miles around.”
It’s not all fun and games though. Studler admitted that he has had to make a lot of sacrifices in order to compete at such a high level. “You give up almost all your summer, all your free time and your social life.” He sometimes finds himself battling injuries, “I had a bad shoulder injury three years ago. It still doesn’t work properly.”
Nevertheless, Studler’s love for the sport drives him to keep going and push through the tough days. He recalled one experience where he competed in U.S. Selections. Studler explained that he had to finish well in order to qualify for the NorAm Tour, a highly competitive national level competition tour. On the first day he crashed and on the second day he still couldn’t get his act together. He used these setbacks for motivation, and he came back on the third day with a result that would allow him to qualify for the NorAm Tour. These less-than-perfect competitions just pump him up to train harder, Studler said. “If I have a bad result, I train that much harder to come back from it.”
Studler recognizes that he couldn’t have done any of this without the support of his father. “My dad is the one who skied with me all the time and created my love for mogul skiing. He’s done everything he can to make it happen financially,” he said.
Even so, it’s an expensive sport and Studler relies on fundraising events to help support his ski career. A few weeks ago he was back home at Gore Mountain for a dinner fundraiser. “I was there all day selling tickets and taking donations… I went skiing with some young kids and we had dinner with a silent auction… Well over a hundred people showed up,” Studler explained. In six hours he was able to raise over $10,000. Studler is grateful for his supporters for all they’ve done to help him pursue his dream of competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Next year Studler will continue to follow his dream by participating in a post-graduate program at KMS. His plan is to put in all the work he can and use this upcoming year as a deciding factor if he wants to move on to college or continue with his career in skiing. “I’ll give it my all this next year and see what happens… A spot in the Olympics would be the opportunity of a lifetime and I couldn’t live without trying.”
Click here to watch Studler’s skiing abilities in action.