Tanner Lyle to compete in moguls at Junior World Ski Championships
Dozens of athletes will gather in Sweden for the International Ski Federation’s Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships next week. For some, the competition will serve as a springboard into a lifelong career in mogul skiing. For others, it’s a chance to prove themselves against some of the best U19 skiers in the world.
But for Winter Park Competition Center athlete Tanner Lyle, it’s a farewell tour.
Lyle grew up in Highlands Ranch, south of Denver, where his parents, Tad and Betsy, bred him into skiing. His father taught ski lessons at Fort Lewis College in Durango, and his mother was a voracious mogul skier, a trait that carried over to Lyle.
“I just grew up skiing moguls with my family,” said Lyle. “On the weekends we’d drive to the mountains, and I’d look up and say I’m never doing that run. And my mom would say we skied it last week, and that it just looks crazy on its face with all the bumps. We always did 10 bump runs a day. That was my mom’s goal.”
When he was eight years old he joined his older brother, Connor, on the Winter Park Competition Center team. He credits his brother and the older athletes with helping him adjust and improve.
“Since my older brother was in the program when I was younger, all the older guys were always egging me on, and encouraging me which was super cool,” recalls Lyle. “I think it’s good to have people older than you to push you to keep progressing and competing.”
Lyle graduated high school a semester early last year to free up his schedule, and he began competing on the Nor-Am circuit. He’s coming off of his best season ever.
In December Lyle made the super finals during U.S. Selections at Winter Park Resort, taking home fifth place. He took fourth at the Val St-Come Nor-Am north of Montreal in January, and seventh at the Killington Resort Nor-Am in Vermont in February.
But the season wasn’t without struggles. During the final Nor-Am of the season in Park City, Utah, Lyle crashed and separated his AC joint in his shoulder, an injury that cost him trips to nationals and junior nationals, and put his Junior World’s birth in jeopardy.
But he’d eventually get the call.
“I was really stoked because I wasn’t sure I’d get an invite,” said Lyle. “I was on track to make it skiing in that last Nor-Am, but I got hurt before it. I had one less competition to qualify than anyone else, so I was a little surprised. But mostly I was excited to get to compete with athletes from all over the world like Germany, Canada, Australia and Sweden obviously.”
Lyle is one of four Americans who will compete in moguls at the competition, along with teammate George McQuinn, another comp center athlete. He leaves on Sunday, to get acquainted with the mountain and to get his sleep schedule adjusted. The athletes training days are April 12 and 13, and the competition will take place on April 14 and 15.
For Lyle, the competition is a last hurrah. He said after this season he intends to leave competitive skiing behind, and attend Montana State University to study business.
“My goal at the beginning of the year was to make Junior Worlds, and to compete in a full Nor-Am tour, and I did that,” said Lyle. “I feel satisfied with what I’ve done with my skiing career. I don’t want to get stuck in this sport.
“I’m not going out on top, but maybe I can go out with a bang. I’m ready for school, and for something different. I’m ready to move on.”
Lyle plans to start school in the fall, and business seems like a good fit for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit. In his free time Lyle and his brother make and sell candle holders and wine racks out of scrap wood. He also enjoys mountain biking, playing pool and hanging out with his friends in Denver.
Despite his ambitions leaving the world of skiing, Lyle said that giving it up will be difficult, and he hopes to keep in touch with the community he spent so long a part of.
“I’ve made a ton of relationships. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep in touch, and stay friends with a lot of people. Maybe I can watch some competitions whenever I come home. I still want to be a part of that community,” said Lyle.
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