Big air Ayad: Steamboat moguls skier earns top honor after successful season
Last year, Anabel Ayad had a growth spurt.
Suddenly, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle moguls skier had more legs to control on her turns, and her winter wasn’t the best because of that.
Over the last year, Ayad has worked to relearn her growing, athletic body, and it’s shown. Last weekend, Ayad was crowned the National Brotherhood of Skiers Grand Prix award-winner, going to the Rocky Mountain Competition Series moguls skier with the most points at the conclusion of the season.
Ayad finished sixth in singles moguls at the Divisional Championships on March 5 at Winter Park. She also finished third in dual moguls, solidifying her spot at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m excited with how my season concluded,” Ayad said. “I’m proud of what I did. After last season, I kind of had a bad season, I wasn’t really skiing very well. … It was very rewarding.”
Going from disappointed last winter to one of the best this winter took a lot of work. Last spring, Ayad played soccer with the Steamboat Springs High School girls varsity team. She also worked at the water ramps during the summer, as well as strength and dryland training, and she went to Mount Hood last summer for a training camp where she spent a lot of time working on her turns.
“I did a lot of strength and agility to relearn how my body moves and get that coordination back,” she said.
Ayad said simply running played a huge role in her getting comfortable with how she moves. All that work translated onto snow very well.
She finished third in the season opener at home and followed that with a second-place finish in Aspen. Then she made her Nor-Am tour debut on Jan. 20 at Deer Valley. She finished 12th. She participated in three Nor-Ams this winter, finishing in the top 25 in every event.
Contributing to her upswing this year is Sam Tarrant, the new freestyle coach at the SSWSC. In past years, Ayad was coached by her mom, Olympics moguls skier Ann Battelle.
“He’s been a really good coach for her and he’s cool and he has new ideas and just different ideas than what she’s always heard,” Battelle said. “And she traveled with him on the Nor-Am tour and not me. I think that was really good for her growth and her confidence and just to know that, ‘I can do this without my mom by my side the whole time.’”
Battelle has coached her daughter in soccer and skiing for years, and, in a way, she’ll always be coach, like she’ll always be Mom. Despite spending so much time together, the pair gets along well, something Battelle does not take for granted.
“She’s 16 now and doesn’t spend as much time with me as she used to, but she still really respects my opinions, which I find crazy. And she still listens to me,” Battelle said. “That’s pretty rare for a 16-year-old and their mom.”
Ayad admits she gets more easily frustrated with her mom than other coaches, because it’s easier for her to take out frustration with herself out on her mom than on another coach. But they know each other’s tendencies well. Battelle said she knows when to push and when to back off.
“She’s definitely my biggest role model,” Ayad said. “Her story is obviously pretty amazing. It’s fun that I get to do what she did, and we get to share that.”
Battelle didn’t push her daughter into moguls but encouraged her with whatever she opted to try. She knew after Ayad’s first Rocky Mountain Qualifier win that her daughter was hooked.
“I remember being like, ‘Oh my god, here we go,’” Battelle said. “You could just see the light in her eyes of, ‘Oh my god this is awesome and I got the blue ribbon.’”
Ayad isn’t the only local headed to junior nationals. She’ll be joined by SSWSC teammates Xander Tatar-Brown, Collin Hassel, Abby McLarnon, Leah Sullivan, Mia Satkiewicz, Ella Walker, Zoe Schaab, Megan Faherty and Izzy Powell. At the Division Championships in Winter Park, Walker finished 8th in singles and fourth in dual moguls, while Abby McLarnon finished seventh in duals and Jaime Maudsen was 10th in singles. Xander Tatar-Brown led the men with seventh in singles, while Liam Siefken finished fifth among all M15 skiers.
At the Rocky Qualifier Series championships, a tier below the competition series, Steamboat’s Reise Wilson and Scotty Kane won the girls and guys titles, respectively. Anouk Bradley finished fifth, and Shannon Kane was 11th in the girls competition. In the guys race, Shane Mariano was fourth and Collin Mudgett-Furgueson took 10th.
Moguls skiing isn’t everything to Ayad, though. She loves soccer too, and doesn’t have an end-all be-all goal of making the Olympics. She’s not ruling it out, by any means. She’s just focusing on one winter at a time.
This one isn’t even done, yet. Ayad is going to junior nationals in Park City at Utah Olympic Park. Then she’ll head to nationals in Deer Valley, where she hopes to earn a top-16 finish.
“It’s on Deer Valley, which is one of the hardest courses in the world, and it’s one of my favorite courses,” Ayad said. “I’m really excited to go and ski my best.”
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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City officials are looking for community outreach on the proposed Steamboat Winter Sports Club Air Awareness Strength and Conditioning facility.