As winter slowly turns to spring, most Minnesotans probably aren’t thinking much about skiing or hitting the slopes—but Bode Applegate isn’t most Minnesotans. A freshman at Mound Westonka High School, Applegate has recently returned from the USSA 2018 Freestyle/Freeskiing Junior Nationals competition in Park City, Utah.
The competition took place from March 6-11 and consisted of competitions in moguls, dual moguls, aerials, halfpipe, slopestyle, and big air. The Junior Nationals bring together top junior competitors from each division to find out who will come out on top.
Before having the honor to compete in the Junior Nationals for his fourth year, Applegate had to qualify by competing in the Midwest Freestyle Championships competition at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota. There he took first place overall in junior moguls, second place overall in halfpipe, and he also competed in slopestyle and big air. While Applegate did not place in this national competition, it is clear that he was there for the love of freestyle skiing and the opportunity to challenge himself and learn from other competitors as well.
At the Junior Nationals competition, Applegate competed in moguls, slopestyle, and big air. He describes these categories of the competition saying, “What I really like about slopestyle is you’re able to really mix things together from rails to jumps and then rails to rails…And something I like about big air is you’re really able to show what you can do at your best. You’re not worried about trying to put things together. You just take your best trick and you do that.”
Applegates love for the sport shines through when asked what he likes best about freestyle skiing. “I started skiing as a racer, and it was something that I kind of got bored of, but I ended up switching over to freestyle skiing and I didn’t know a lot about it but after I started for a while I started finding that there’s so much you can do with it and there’s not really a limit to what you can do, and that’s just something that I really enjoyed about it,” says Applegate.
He adds that freestyle skiing also gives him more opportunities to grow as a skiier and to develop new skills. “Just being able to find a comfort level but then slightly push myself into doing cooler and better things and like have fun with friends and seeing what they can do compared to what you can do,” Applegate adds. “And you can really use that to push each other, and I find a lot of fun in that, that it’s also something you can do socially and it’s not just competition.”
When asked if he planned to continue freestyle skiing into the future, or possibly use his skills in a future career Applegate replied, “There’s not a lot of money in freestyle skiing so it would be pretty hard to turn it into a career unless I got really, really good. Which, I don’t think I will. But I’m going to keep pushing myself as far as I can go and maybe at some point I will reach that point where I do get that good and I can actually make something out of it.”