(NEXSTAR) — The road to becoming an olympian is different for everyone. For some, it’s more of a straight line. For others, it’s a winding road.
In this week’s Journey to Beijing, Nexstar’s Matt Barnes talks with a freestyle skiing aerials athlete, hoping her switch to the sport pays off with a trip to China for the Winter Olympics.
Karenna Elliott loves to flip. It’s why she competed in trampoline gymnastics growing up — but everything changed in 2014.
“The guy who recruited me, he worked for the ski team, and he just came up to me after competition and was like, ‘Hey, do you know how to ski?’ And I was just kind of like, ‘skiing?’ I don’t know what that is,” Elliott said.
And so at age 14, Elliott changed course. She’s still flipping — but now, on skis.
“Flipping is the easy part. It’s the landing for me that’s the difficult part. Because these big, long skis are not normal for me, so learning how to land was definitely the hardest part of that,” Elliott said.
Now 21 years old, Elliott has recently been named to the U.S. Aerials national team. She’s spent the summer training and splashing down in park city at the Utah Olympic Park.
“The water ramps we have, we have a big pool with like a million and a half gallons of water, it’s huge. And the water ramps, they are these steel ramps made out of a plastic material, kind of like your toothbrush, kind of like bristles. And we get the bristles wet and then we can ski down it just like regular snow,” she said.
Soon enough, she will have to land on snow again, as the world cup season gets underway. And for Elliott, that means her opportunity to secure a spot on her first Olympic team.
“You need two top-three results or one win at a World Cup competition and I’ve got four chances so that’s a decent shot,” she said.