Bristol Mountain savors Olympic success

February 22, 2018 06:29 PM

There are roughly 430 alpine ski areas in the United States.

From those 430, 29 skiers are selected to the United States National Ski Team.

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Of those 29, six got their start at Bristol Mountain.

And of those six, two of them were in this year's Winter Olympic Games. 

"It's kind of surreal when you kid of get told the stats and how often that happens," says Morgan Schild, who participated in the Moguls competition in Pyeongchang.

"It doesn't happen anywhere else but this cute little ski area called Bristol Mountain."

The secret to Bristol's Olympian-building success? Ski Coach John Kroetz. Kroetz started out as a ski instructor with no competitive background, but hard work and research helped build one of the best programs around. 

"The program started being successful right away," he says. "We didn't have a lot of moguls, so we learned how to shovel them and right now we shovel everything and the kids always have something to train on. That's one of the secrets to our success- we always have either some moguls available or some jumps available for the kids to train on."

Kroetz personally coached all six of Bristol's US Ski Team representatives, including the two Olympians- Schild and aerialist Jon Lillis. Affectionately known as "Johnny" to the athletes, Kroetz is bursting with pride.

"It's overwhelming emotionally to be honest with you, when they come back to Bristol and they'd got the American flag on their jacket and they're representing not just Bristol but all of the Greater Rochester area. I couldn't be more proud of all six of them." 

And Kroetzhas already inspired the next round of Bristol Olympians, like seven-year-old Ava Reid and 13-year-old Isaac Alva.

"I thought moguls looked kind of fun, and then I met Johnny and he was a little nice, so I figured I wanted to do moguls," says Ava.

"I saw Johnny's huge jumps he built and kids flying off them, and it looked really fun," says Isaac.

Although Western New York isn't traditionally thought of as the birthplace for Olympic skiers, Kroetz and his skiers are definitely changing that.

"It's a testament to the area that you don't need to be from Vail, Colorado to become an Olympian. If you have hard work, dedication and you really try hard, you can be whatever you want to be." 

Watch the preview for this story above, and then tune in to the Olympic Zone on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the full story! And be sure to click here for more information on Bristol Mountain. 


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