By Nicole Brodzik
Bode Applegate is 13 and is already on his way to this third national freestyle ski championship.
Applegate will be competing the USA Junior National Freestyle Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho from March 14-18.
After starting to ski at just 6 years old, Applegate said he quickly got bored with ski racing and after being introduced to freestyle, he was hooked.
“There’s no limit to what you can learn in freestyle skiing,” Applegate said. “I found a freedom in it.”
Applegate skis with a freestyle team at Hyland Hills. He and a few of his teammates will be making the trek out to Idaho this weekend.
In his third run at this competition, Applegate will participating in four events over the four day period. He will be in the Big Air, Slopestyle, Moguls and Aerial competitions.
“There’s something I like about all of them,” Applegate said. “I don’t think I could pick a favorite.”
Last year, Applegate suffered his only major injury since starting skiing just before he was set to compete in the Big Air event. That particular competition has skiers riding down a hill and then up off a large jump, where they perform different tricks in the air.
A fall landed the then 12-year-old with a concussion and he was forced to sit out of that event in 2016. This year, he’s ready to make his comeback.
“I like how much time you get to spend in the air,” Applegate said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”
His mom, Wendy Applegate, still worries about her son during competitions, but said she’s very proud of everything he’s accomplished so far.
“I gotta say, when he’s first learning those tricks, I’m glad I’m not there,” she said. “We’re so proud of him, but every time he gets back from a competition I think, ‘Oh good, he came home, I don’t have to go to the hospital.’”
Bode Applegate has a 10-year-old brother who has started to follow in his footsteps, meaning their mom’s nerves won’t be getting a break any time soon.
“Last year we got a trampoline for Christmas so we can practice tricks,” Bode Applegate said. “Working on the trampoline helped me to learn how to do flips on skis.
For now, only Bode Applegate is skiing competitively, and doing well in large part thanks to his father, John Applegate.
“He comes to all my competitions and is always pushing me to and I’m a much better skier because of it,” Bode Applegate said. “Without him I couldn’t have gotten this far.”
Wendy Applegate said her husband is their son’s biggest cheerleader and said she loves seeing the bond they share thanks to skiing.
“It’s just cool to see,” she said. “Bode will get nervous at competitions and John will be there to reassure him that he can do the harder tricks and helps push him to be his best.”
Despite his recent success in a very young career, Bode Applegate said he doesn’t think he wants to turn his hobby into a job down the road.
“Right now, even in these big competitions, you’re skiing with your friends,” he said. “As a pro, you don’t have that. I don’t think I want to go that far and have that kind of pressure.”
Wendy Applegate said if her son decided to pursue that lifestyle, she and her husband would support that dream.
“I honestly think if continues to progress and if the opportunity came along, he might surprise himself and go for it,” she said. “We would never push him into that, we just want him to have fun with it.”