Her ultimate goal may be to compete in Olympics, but Kayla Burcin, of Basking Ridge, achieved a milestone when she won last Sunday's dual-mogul event at the Eastern U.S.S.A. Freestyle event at the Sunday River ski resort in Bethel, Maine.
On Saturday, Burin placed sixth in the single mogul event.
“Course conditions were great, despite the weather leading up to the event, and athletes had the choice of four lines with well maintained jumps and landings,” said one of Burcin’s coaches Sam Tarrant, a freestyle coach at the Killington Mountain School (KMS), a ski academy where kids are on the slopes training almost as much as they are in the classroom.
“The course was great for working on new skills that the athletes will continue to work on during the season,” he added.
Burcin, who started to compete in freestyle ski competitions when she was e8 years old, has attended KMS since the seventh grade.
“Obviously, the ultimate goal is to be in the Olympics,” the 16-year-old Burcin said. But, she adds, the first step is to make the U.S. Development Team and compete in World Cup races.
The Maine event was part of the Eastern Championship Series, the “A” level, qualifies skiers for national level events including Juniors Olympics, Junior Worlds, U.S. Freestyle Championships, and the U.S. Selection Events. Eastern Freestyle has produced many U.S. Freestyle Ski Team, U.S. Open and X-Game podium winners and Olympic athletes.
Burcin hopes to land in the top three at both Junior Olympics and the Top 10 at the Nationals to become a member of the U.S. Development Team. She will still have to do well in the U.S. Selections event next December in order to clinch a spot.
“It’s a good way to start the year,” Burcin said about the Maine event, adding that there were a lot of strong competitors there. Burcin credits her “turns, lines and speed” with the great score she got to win the event. The 360 to a back flip didn’t hurt either.
Although she said she misses friends in Basking Ridge, she treasures the experience she is having. “I meet a lot of great people and get to do some amazing travel,” she says. She has been to Australia twice, Canada and all over the states for competitions. “I wouldn’t give up the opportunity I have for anything.”