WATERVILLE VALLEY — A Madbury brother and sister both have earned spots on the U.S. Ski Team.
Grace Henderson, 18, is in her third season. This spring, Hunter Henderson, 16, was also named to the U.S. Freeski Slopestyle Rookie Team. Both trained at the WVBBTS/Waterville Valley Academy, named by US Ski & Snowboard as its 2019 Freeski Club of the Year.
Hunter and Grace, the children of Mark and Christine Henderson, said their individual and collective goals are to make the U.S. Olympic team, noting that the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing will feature Slopestyle for a third consecutive time, while also introducing the Big Air discipline.
“I’m very happy and excited,” Hunter Henderson said last week, adding that being named to the Rookie team is the culmination of a journey that he and his sister began when each was only about 2 years old and their parents would take them skiing at resorts throughout New Hampshire.
Torey Amorello, executive director and head of school at Waterville Valley Academy, said hundreds of youngsters annually come to the academy and/or the BBTS Ski Club, aspiring to be “like these guys” — Grace and Hunter Henderson.
“How great is it,” Amorello asked, “to have role models right here in our organization?”
Known as the “Birthplace of Freestyle Skiing,” Waterville Valley boasts an impressive roster of skiers and snowboarders who call it their home mountain, among them Hannah Kearney, who won an Olympic gold medal in moguls and X-Games snowboarder Pat Moore.
Founded in 1972, Waterville Valley Academy is a snowsports and academic academy for full time student athletes in grades 6-12. The academy is operated by the non-profit Waterville Valley Black and Blue Trail Smashers Snowsports Educational Foundation, which also runs the BBTS Ski Club, a weekend training program for alpine, freestyle and snowboard athletes.
In addition to Kearney and Moore, the academy and ski club have 11 alumni currently on the U.S. Ski team.
In the fall, Grace Henderson will attend the University of Denver where she will pursue a degree in business while also skiing competitively. Meanwhile, Hunter Henderson will return to the New Hampton School for his junior year.
Dan Shuffleton, director and head coach of the WVA Freeski program, said being named Club of the Year and having the Hendersons named to the U.S. Ski team are tremendous accomplishments.
Freeskiing continues to grow in popularity, he said, and was recently named in the Top five fastest-growing outdoor sports. A nominee for 2019 Freeski Coach of the year by US Ski & Snowboard, Shuffleton in 2013 was named USSA Development Coach of the Year and in 2014 was named Freeski Coach of the Year.