Featured Athlete: Travis Gerrits
Sport: Freestyle Skiing
Representing: Canadian Olympic Team
Awards: Silver, FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships 2013
Favorite Apps: “I fly a lot so my Aeroplan app is key as well as 8tracks which enables me to listen to preset playlists of any genre I’m in the mood to listen to.”
Notable: First Olympics and a medal contender at 22.
He came back strong from a knee injury in 2012.
Born: October 19, 1991
Hometown: Milton, Ontario, Canada
Freestyle Skiing Schedule and Results: Monday February 17, 2014
Aerial star overcomes devastating knee injury to challenge at Sochi
How do world-class aerial skiers train in the heat of summer? A pool, of course. A very large pool.
Travis Gerrits’ silver-medal performance at the FIS World Championships in March secured the freestyle aerials skier a spot on Team Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Now it’s time to make a splash in what might be the most breathtaking of Olympic events. Watching him go airborne en route to landing a triple backflip is akin to a helicopter flying on its side.
With five months to go before the Winter Games, Gerrits, 22, has gone full throttle through the Quebec summer, although that’s nothing new.“Having qualified for the Olympics doesn’t actually change a lot in my daily training routine,” Gerrits told SochiPhotos.com. “In the summer time, I train at the water ramp facility in Quebec City. I jump five days a week and am in the gym at least four days a week working on core and leg strength.”
There’s something special about Sochi – Russia’s unofficial summer capital – where the Black Sea and Caucasus meet. But that Olympic backdrop – stunning as it is – is nothing compared to Gerrits’ own backstory.
He’s Sochi-bound after a remarkable comeback that saw the 5-foot-7, 145-pound Gerrits tear an MCL and meniscus at Lake Placid in January 2012. He was sidelined four months as his surgically-repaired right knee healed, but returned with a vengeance this season.
Three second-place finishes this year – two on the World Cup circuit – have propelled Gerrits, a student at Stanford University, into the Olympic medal conversation. One event even took him to Sochi.
“Just this past February we had an ‘Olympic Test Event’ where we competed on the exact same site as we will see this year,” Gerrits said. “It was a great learning experience for us to get familiar with the site. It is a beautiful ski hill and little town and I am excited for the Games to come.”
A Family AffairIf you see an awful lot of attention coming from @Freestyleskimom, she’s no mere fan. That’s Gerrits’ mother, Heather.
“Freestyleskimom is awesome!” he said. “My family has been my No. 1 supporters since Day One and I would definitely suggest giving them a follow as I am sure she will be ‘social’ during the Games. Mom isn’t scared of what I do – she is actually a judge of the sport, like my brother Tyler Gerrits. My dad Rob has also been my photographer and videographer.”In the lead-up to Sochi, Gerrits plans to compete in five World Cup events, including three North American stops. Even after the Feb. 7 Opening Ceremonies, Gerrits will have a long layover until his name is called.
“The aerials event won’t take place until the 10th day of competition, leaving us a little bit of time to go see some of the other events,” Gerrits said. “Depending on the schedule, I would love to see the other freestyle skiing events, hockey, anything! All of the Canadian athletes get along so well and it is great when we can share our successes with each other.”
Aerials, which feature acrobatic airborne maneuvers after launching from a jump, was added at the Lillehammer Games in 1994. That makes the sport is a relative neophyte in Olympic terms.
Canadians took home three medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games, highlighted by Alexandre Bilodeau’s victory in moguls. Reigning aerials gold medalist Alexei Grishin (Belarus) is still competing at 34.
But Gerrits clearly represents the sport’s GIF-friendly future. His mom aside, social media has taken notice of the star-in-waiting.
“My follower base has continued to grow on all of my social networks since I have qualified for the Olympics,” Gerrits said. “I plan to share my journey with anyone that is interested! I realize that this experience is so special and I am lucky enough to share my adventures with everyone including during the Games.”
So tune in. Whether Gerrits lands another triple backflip or falls flat, the ride promises to be memorable.
Travis Gerrits photos and videos