Being featured in the newspaper for her snowsports athleticism is nothing new for Mammoth High School Sophomore Abigale Hansen. The all-star halfpipe skier has been highlighted in the past for impressive finishes in major snowsports industry events. Two winters back, Abi finished third place in both the 2011 North Face Park & Pipe event and the 2011 Revolution Tour. Last winter, she stepped up her game even more, gaining greater amplitude out of the pipe, and jumping up two notches on the podium to earn a gold in the 2012 Revolution Tour.
Competing in West Coast Invitationals is common practice for this sophomore. Going bigger and harder than the season before is just everyday work for this athlete known to dye her hair purple from time to time. With the blessing of recent snowfalls on Mammoth Mountain, Hansen has starting training hard right out of the gate, with big plans for where her talent and fellow Freeski Team coaches will take her, all beginning this next month.
The first stop on Abi’s itinerary this winter is Breckenridge, Colo. She will compete in the Dew Tour held Dec. 12 – 15. This landmark event is a part of the official U.S. Olympic Team selection. The nationally-televised event airing via NBC will showcase snowboarding and skiing in both superpipe and slopestyle. Abi’s specialization is halfpipe. Mammoth Mountain Freeski Team Head Coach Ryan Carey says of Abi, “She’s a halfpipe contender. The biggest asset to her competition is she goes a lot bigger than the other girls. Her amplitude is huge.” This comes as no surprise for those of us who know Abi. The 15-year old began skiing at the age of one. She started competing at age five, a race held at June Mountain. By age seven, she had a numbered bib on her chest for halfpipe, slopestyle, and skiercross events held at Mammoth Mountain. That same year, she was invited to USASA Nationals in Northstar-at-Tahoe where she finished third in slopestyle. She has been skiing competitively for half her life, and hasn’t even obtained her driver’s license yet.
Ryan Carey says of Abi, “She is really motivated. Dedicated to her sport, freeskiing. She cares about her performance and how she does. When she comes out to train, she’s super focused.” I asked Carey about Hansen’s competitive tour this winter. After the Dew Tour, Abi will compete in two major Grand Prix events. She skis halfpipe at Copper Mountain in the middle of December, and in January, she competes at Northstar-at-Tahoe.
Last season, Abi had somewhat of a setback at the World Cup Grand Prix in Colorado. She fractured her heel in slopestyle. This took her off the snow for a couple of months. Healed from that injury, she accepted an invitation to the Junior Worlds, which left her with a partially-torn ACL and bone bruise on her femur and tibia.
The truth of the halfpipe is that with great rewards come great risks. Abi has shown that strong work ethic that Coach Carey talks about, and she is ready to start doing it again. Abi’s ultimate goal is contending in the 2018 Winter Olympics on the Korean Peninsula. This winter’s events are definitely steps along that path.
Carey says, “She is one of the youngest athletes for this level of competition. These are high-level, pro contests.”
To allow the opportunity to compete at the high-caliber level that Abi is engaged in she attends the Independent Learning Center (ILC) at Mammoth High School. The ILC program allows Abi, and her likeminded peers, to obtain an excellent education while meeting the same standard for training and competitions. Abi’s favorite school subjects are science and math. She says of the ILC, “I love it. It gives me the opportunity to travel and excel in my skiing.” Abi exclusively earns “A’s” and “B’s” in her coursework. I am blessed to have her enrolled in a World History course. I always enjoy reading her insight into the complex subject. She understands the political climate of pre-World War One Europe as much as she does pulling off Corkscrew 720’s. Abi has her sights set on attending Westminster College in Salt Lake City after her academics in Mammoth come to a close.
The late Sarah Burke is Abi’s biggest inspiration. “I saw things about her all over the place. She is one reason why women’s halfpipe is in the X Games. She is a big reason for the big change of making women more equal in the sports industry.”
Abi also admires freestyle skier Alex Schlopy. “He’s a big pipe skier. One of my favorites of all time.” As for Abi, she says she wants, “to be the best I can be in everything and anything I can. Sports and academics.” As for her words of wisdom for you, “Never be afraid to go for what you want, no matter what other people say, because your dream is your dream, not someone else’s.”
Mammoth High School produces world-class winter sports athletes. Abigale Hansen is one of them.