Go, go Giaccio! Steamboat teen lands on moguls podium | SteamboatToday.com

Go, go Giaccio! Steamboat teen lands on moguls podium

— Even in a world of composed, driven and dedicated athletes, 15-year old Steamboat Springs moguls skier Olivia Giaccio stands out as composed, driven and dedicated.

For instance, the Steamboat Springs freestyle moguls skier prepares about as carefully for every competition run as NASA might for sending an astronaut to the moon.

"Everyone says they're hard working, but the devil's in the details and she takes painstaking care of the details," said Bobby Aldighieri, freestyle director for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Giaccio leaves none of those details to chance.

"Before an event, she's got her goggles lined up — dark lens, yellow lens, clear lenses — all in her bag," Aldighieri said. "She's got multiple pairs of gloves in case one gets wet, then a thin pair and a thick pair, and her skis are always meticulously tuned.

"You don't have to tell her that stuff. She just does it naturally."

Recommended Stories For You

She's young, yet mature; new to the elite level of the sport, yet unfazed by the pressure.

When the moment came Friday, during the U.S. Freestyle Championships women's moguls finals, Giaccio didn't wilt. She wowed.

She placed second in the event, stunning a collection of the nation's best moguls skiers with a podium finish.

"I'm pretty excited on it," she said. "I'm just really happy with how I skied all day."

Showing them all

Telluride and U.S. Ski Team athlete Keaton McCargo won the day, laying down a dominating run that scored in at 88.22, nearly four points better than anyone else.

That was a relief, she said, a welcome respite from an otherwise rough winter.

"I had a pretty terrible season on World Cup. I just couldn't put it together," she said. "This is a great way to end it."

Giaccio, meanwhile, led the way for a strong day from Steamboat Springs skiers. She was second at 84.83, while Lane Stoltzner was third at 83.94.

Stoltzner trained in Steamboat for years before she made the U.S. Ski Team last spring.

Stoltzner came away particularly happy with a 360 she spun off the top air, the first of two jumps on the course, and that's what helped push her onto the podium.

"I just wanted to go fast and go big," she said. "I was really happy with my run, and the score reflected that."

Making the team a year ago was a major moment for her, but she backed it up with an underwhelming season this winter in the minor leagues of moguls skiing, the Nor-Am Cup circuit.

Showing well at nationals offered vindication after a frustrating season.

"It was awesome to be able to show everyone, literally our whole sport, what I've been working on," Stoltzner said. "It really has been paying off."

Three other Steamboat skiers also made it into the 16-skier finals. U.S. Ski Team skier Sophia Schwartz was ninth after a solid run. Winter Sports Club veteran Avital Shimko was 13th, and Jaelin Kauf took 14th after slipping on the landing of her last trick.

Bouncing back

For Giaccio, the finish provides a bit of vindication, as well, vindication of the decision to move from Vail last season to Steamboat this season.

Giaccio is all-in on skiing. She left her public high school in Vail and has been taking classes online from Stanford Online High School. She said it's more difficult, as Stanford would imply, rather than easy, as online might.

She came for a more individualized coaching experience, and she said she was thrilled with what she found in both Aldighieri and in moguls ability coach Kate Blamey.

She was quickly recording top results, including three top-5 finishes at the U.S. Team Selections event in December.

That earned her the chance to start in a World Cup event at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort in February. She came prepared, of course, and skied well, finishing 16th in a moguls event. Still, a hard crash two days later in a dual moguls competition put a stop to her red-hot season.

That kept her out of the bumps and away from the jarring impacts for more than a month, but it didn't keep her off skis.

Instead, she worked on her form on regular terrain with another Steamboat moguls coach, Bridget Lipman.

By the time this week's national championships came, Giaccio was healthy again, ready to ski and ready to shock.

"This is something I've always wanted to do," she said. "I know I still have a long way to go, but this feels great."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

U.S. Freestyle National Championships women’s moguls results

Podium and Steamboat finishers

1 Keaton McCargo 88.22

2 Olivia Giaccio 84.83

3 Lane Stoltzner 83.94

9 Sophia Schwartz 81.43

13 Avital Shimko 74.21

14 Jaelin Kauf 71.88

U.S. Freestyle Skiing National Championships schedule

Saturday

11 a.m. — Men’s and women’s aerials qualifications

12:15 p.m. — Men’s and women’s aerials finals 1

1:25 p.m. — Men’s and women’s aerials finals 2

Sunday

10:40 a.m. — Men’s and women’s dual moguls competition

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.