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A Big Jump Toward His Olympic Dreams

Woodbury resident Cayden Wood, 10, is among the nation’s elite freestyle skiers.

The bespectacled Woodbury youngster twists his hands and shoulders, smiling, clearly excited as he explains his craft.

“I like 540s,” he says. “With grabs. Because you’re going backwards, and that’s fun. But it’s not fun if you fall.”

As most eyes are focused on the Summer Olympics, Cayden Wood is waiting for the snow to fall… and a shot to perhaps one day represent his country on the world’s biggest stage in the Winter Games.

Cayden is among the top-ranked U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association freestyle skiers in the nation: he’s No. 66 in aerial and No. 86 in “slopestyle.”

He’s 10 years old. (His 2002 birth date is easy to find in the rankings.)

“It’s really fun,” said Cayden, who will be fifth-grader at this fall.

His skills on the slopes—mostly practicing at Afton Alps—have come naturally, said his father, Don Wood.

“I think the first time he did a 360 it was kind of an accident,” he said.

Cayden started skiing at age 4, and recently took home Rookie of the Year honors at an end-of-season Nybora banquet.

He studies plenty of YouTube videos to check out the latest tricks, and often practices with 16- and 17-year-olds, Don said.

“It’s a very close-knit group of individuals,” he said. “They’ve taken Cayden under their wing, in a sense.”

Getting to his elite level—Cayden is sponsored by Smith Sport Optics and K2 Skis—takes plenty of training. And guts, of course.

“I’ve had some bad falls,” Cayden said with a laugh.

But the possibility of getting injured doesn’t deter him.

“If you do, you do. If you don’t, you don’t,” Cayden said, knocking the family’s dining room table for luck.

This summer he’s playing soccer, and maintaining his agility at Woodbury’s Perpetual Motion, where he practices on a trampoline.

Cayden's long-term goals are to participate in the X Games, qualify for the Junior Olympics and make the U.S. Olympic team. (The 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia will include slopestyle and halfpipe skiing for the first time.)

Asked his favorite subject in school, Cayden said writing. The young athlete was asked again.

“I was going to say recess,” he said.

 

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