“He sets a goal in front of him and he goes there.”
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Hunter Hess is one of the nation’s top freestyle skiers, and despite missing out on this year’s Olympics, he continues to defy the odds.
Before the 23-year-old started tearing up the national ranks, he was here in Bend at Mt. Bachelor.
“Bend is a great place because it lets you ski the way you want and makes skiing a priority for you,” Hess told us recently.
Hess joked that skiing wasn’t always a priority.
“I actually hated skiing for quite a while. It wasn’t my sport of choice, I really liked football,” Hess said.
After Hess realized his natural ability on the tracks, his attitude changed and he competed in the USASA Enter the Dragon competition at Mt. Bachelor and eventually joined the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation (MBSEF).
As Hess overshot on the mountain, he had to put in extra effort in the classroom at Summit High School.
Barbara Murphy is a Learning Specialist at Summit and has known Hess since her freshman year.
“I just helped facilitate that balance between navigating online courses and being in school and being on the road,” Murphy said.
Cory Jacquot is a teaching assistant at Summit and helped support Hess’ skiing career while he was a student.
“He knew what he wanted to do, and he was going for it, and we just helped him stay on track,” Jacquot said.
Hess credits much of his success to their help.
“And if I didn’t have them, I don’t know where I would be. I probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school,” Hess said with a laugh. “And my skiing would be much worse.”
Hess graduated from high school, actually doing so a semester early.
Since then he has competed in ski competitions all over the world, stepping onto the podium in a few and even producing and starring in two of his own ski films, called MAGMA and MAGMA II.
Just months before Olympic qualifying, Hunter crashed during practice, tearing his MCL.
Hunter attacked rehab, doing everything he could to get back to skiing.
But his body had other plans.
“It was actually the day of the four week period that we finished – and I had appendicitis,” Hess recalled. “So I had to come in and have surgery for that.”
This kept him away from the tracks even longer and he missed the first qualifying.
But as he always does, Hess fired back.
Jacquot said: “He is determined and he is dedicated to what he wants to do. He sets a goal in front of him and he goes there. »
Hess was able to squeeze in just two days of skiing ahead of the next qualifier, after nearly nine weeks away from the sport.
He described what it was like to finally be healthy.
“I went down to the bottom, and I was just crying a little bit, you know,” Hess said. “All that time spent waiting for things to start improving so that we can work on them to improve.”
After all he had been through, he was just grateful to be back.
“Regardless of what happens even tomorrow, I’m able to go out and ski,” Hess said.
Unfortunately, Hess’ heroic comeback wasn’t enough and he failed to qualify as one of the top six halfpipe skiers in the country.
But he is not shaken. On the contrary, he is more grateful to the people by his side – and more motivated.
“So much of their personal time, effort and energy in me just to be able to pursue this dream,” Hess said. “I think the most important thing for me would be to be able to give that back.”
For people who support Hess, watching him chase that dream is more than enough.
“I’m not surprised he’s at the level he’s at right now, and he’ll probably make it to the Olympics,” Jacquot said.
“Maybe he didn’t make it this time, but he will be there next time,” Murphy said. “And we’ll be there to cheer him on, and we’re waiting for that to happen.”