Barbecue benefits Ryan St. Onge’s quest for Olympic Gold |

Barbecue benefits Ryan St. Onge’s quest for Olympic Gold

A simple walk with Ryan St. Onge can be disarming.

He might suddenly leap in the air to touch an overhead sign, or jump from a flight of stairs and execute a corkscrew in the parking garage.

Fortunately, he was encouraged in these antics and became one of the youngest athletes ever selected to the U.S. Aerial Ski Team at age 14.

Now, two-time World Cup gold medalist Ryan St. Onge, 26, is gearing up for Vancouver this winter of 2010.

The Olympic freestyle aerial jumper has Grand County ties, having attended Fraser Valley Elementary School, East Grand Middle School and Middle Park High School before transferring to Whitman Academy in Steamboat Springs to complete his high school education while training for World Cup events.

At his first World Cup he placed 13th at the age of 16. He won the 2001 Junior World Aerials, and he competed in his first Olympic Games in 2006 in Torino, Italy.

In 2009, St. Onge secured the National Championship title and the World Championship title, garnering two World Cup golds in Deer Valley, Utah, and Moscow, Russia.

The wins launched him from the competitive circuit to the talk circuit, since appearing on the Tonight Show, the Ellen Show and the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, where he skied into 10,000 gallons of slime.

The aerial jumper was born in Connecticut and began skiing at the age of 2. The St. Onge family eventually moved to Winter Park, where the young St. Onge joined the Winter Park Resort Competition Center Freestyle Program.

According to friends, he has defied gravity all of his life.

“When rollerblading the Fraser River trails, he was constantly leaping in the air, doing 360 degree turns and continuing on his way, blithely unaware of the slack-jawed observers in his wake,” said family friend Kathy Gilbertson of Granby, who along with her own children would rollerblade alongside him on the trail.

Presently, St. Onge is training in Lake Placid but plans to attend the fundraising event at the Beaver Lodge this weekend.

“We are encouraging his ‘hometown’ to step up and support this outstanding athlete,” Gilbertson said.