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From Detroit Mountain to the Rockies - Simison to compete at USSA Championships

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Carson Simison has made big moves from his start at Detroit Mountain to training in such ski areas as Mount Hood on his path to qualifying for the USSA U14 Championships in Colorado next week. Submitted photo
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The return of Detroit Mountain was full of nostalgia for locals who remember the former version, but one area junior skier is showing what bringing back one of Detroit Lakes’ vacationland mainstays is doing for the future of the sport here.

Carson Simison, a Detroit Lakes 13-year-old, recently competed at the United States Ski and Snowboard (USSA) Region 1 qualifier Feb. 21-23 at Marquette Mountain in Michigan qualifying for the Rocky/Central U14 Championships by placing 48th overall out of a field of 164 skiers.

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Carson Simison training at one of this season's speed camps. Submitted photo

Simison got his start on Detroit Mountain and has trained locally with coaches Jennifer Smith, Casey Bekkerus and Matt Brunko.

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Simison began as a snowboarder before moving to skis. A trip to Big Sky in Montana to finish off the end of his first season had him hooked on racing.

He joined Smith’s new developmental ski team at Detroit Mountain the following winter and competed for the first time at Andes Tower Hills (Alexandria) and Powder Ridge (St. Cloud). Simison has been a part of big growth in Smith’s program that began with 18 skiers five years ago to finishing this season with 116.

Simison’s subsequent training has taken him all over the United States and to Europe. He spent five weeks during the summer of 2019 in the mountains and traveled to Hintertux, Austria for several days of training with coach and world champion Hugo Nindl.

Working with Nindl, Simison learned he needed to improve his strength and mobility as much, if not more, than his racing skills.

Upon returning to Detroit Lakes, he began workouts with trainers Mark Gloege and Chris Holt.

The physical training four days per week to go with racing practice five days a week brought a noticeable improvement in his skills.

After more mountain training and skiing in the Twin Cities, he recorded first place finishes at Brainerd and Giant’s Ridge.

Simison worked his way to the podium by joining the Northland Junior Racing series in 2016-17, finishing second place at Powder Ridge and fourth at Wild Mountain (Chisago County).

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Carson Simison, 13, and USSA Division 1 coach Tony Olin. Submitted photo

He placed third at Detroit Mountain in 2017-18 before joining forces with USSA Division 1 coach Tony Olin.

Olin got Simison in front of some big name skiers by inviting him to Afton Alps for two days of one-on-one training. Olin was a former assistant race coach of gold medalist Lindsey Vonn. A later trip to Olin’s Ski Camp in Mt. Hood, Oregon allowed Simison to work with Olympic skier Josée Lacasse.

After more training in Vail, Colorado, Simison returned home to pick up his first victory at Detroit Mountain where he got his start.

Simison joined Olin’s Team Afton and began competing with the best skiers in Minnesota prior to his travel to Europe. He was named the team’s most improved racer - all leading to a top-50 finish in Michigan in his first year skiing that level.

Region 1 consists of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois. Competitors raced three runs of slalom and giant slalom at the Marquette qualifier.

Simison’s slalom results were 38th (0:29.84), 40th (0:33.87) and 40th (0:48.97).

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In giant slalom, he placed 33rd (0:33.20), 43rd (0:33.17) and 27th (0:33.30).

Racers are required to finish in the top 50 percentile to advance.

The 2020 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Rocky/Central U14 Championships will take place in Steamboat Springs March 9-14.

The event features the fastest 12 and 13-year-old skiers from the 18-state Rocky/Central region who qualified through divisional championships. Racers compete in Super G, giant slalom, slalom and duals.

The Tribune will have more on this story and the local ski program later this month.

Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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