Photo: Kaitlin Keane, Kjersti Moritz, Elisabeth Bocock. Credit: John Keene
This year’s US Ski Team recruits include two from Vail, Colorado and one from Salt Lake City, Utah.
Three teenagers were named to the U.S. Alpine Development Team this May – Kjersti Moritz, Kaitlin Keane and Elisabeth Bocock. In addition to displaying an aptitude for speed, they each possess a wealth of talents. And all three are excited to take the next leap in their burgeoning race careers.
Kjersti Moritz, U.S. Ski Team
Meet U.S. Team rookie Fischer athlete Kjersti Moritz. Growing up in Vail, Moritz literally cannot remember a time when she didn’t ski. She began racing her sisters – older, younger, and twin – on the NASTAR course as a youth. And then she joined Ski and Snowboard Club Vail full-time as a U12. Initially competing in both alpine and freestyle, she chose speed over tricks.
“I didn’t like the judged side of freestyle,” she says. “I liked how ski racing was accurate with just the timing.”
Moritz is also, a competitive soccer player who studies Norwegian (her mother’s native tongue) at Vail Mountain School. However, the 17-year-old focuses most of her energy on alpine racing and training.
Moritz draws attention
Moritz gained attention by firing into the FIS race world impressively with top 20s in giant slalom and slalom as well as 10th place in super G in her first-ever National Championships in November 2020. And in addition, Moritz joined the Nor-Am circuit last season, landing a handful of top 10s in GS, slalom and combined as well as narrowly missing a podium in a Nor-Am parallel race.
She has also experienced the big stage, by forerunning last season’s World Cup race in Killington. And she wrapped up the season with a podium streak at the 2022 National Junior Championships in Vail (she won the GS, took second in slalom and third in super G). She was thus crowned U18 champion, an accomplishment she considers “up there, for sure,” as far as lifetime racing highlights to date.
Naming fellow Vail Valley native Mikaela Shiffrin, whom she grew up watching as her idol. Moritz has realistic goals for her future as a U.S. Team skier.
“My short-term goals are to get strong in the gym,” she says. “I have a technical foundation, but I’m on the smaller side and some of the girls have an edge on me. My long-term goals? I want to keep improving to become the best skier I can be whether that’s in Nor-Ams or the Europa Cups. I’m just really excited about what’s to come.”
Kaitlin Keane, U.S. Ski Team
Meet U.S. Team Rookie and HEAD athlete Kaitlin Keane. Growing up in a family of ski racers, including three older brothers, two of whom raced for Dartmouth, Keane was on skis by the time she was 3. Her family moved to Vail from Massachusetts when she was 4. A couple of years later, she started racing for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. However, she has always had an eye on making the national squad.
“When I was younger, of course, I always wanted to make the team,” says the 17-year-old. “As I got older, I thought that was cool and still wanted it, but I shouldn’t set my sights on it. Honestly, this last year was my first time skiing for me.”
It proved to be a recipe for success. After launching into FIS as well as university racing and immediately racking up points during the 2020-21 season, Keane began etching her place as a solid contender on the Nor-Am circuit last season. And Keane then charged onto the U.S. Team radar last December when she went 1-2 in a pair of National Junior giant slalom races on her home mountain.
“I was really excited when I heard I made the team,” she says. “There’s just so many good opportunities that come with it.”
Most rewarding moment to date
As far as the most rewarding moments in racing (so far), Keane named a Nor-Am GS last December, in which she started 60th. She made a mistake in the first run but put down the fastest second run to finish 13th. Also coming to mind is the day after winning the super G at the National Junior Championships this March in Vail; Keane lost her goggles during the GS race but managed to finish second.
“It was snowing that day and some frost got underneath the lens,” she recalls. “I was blinking and took some gates to the face. I crashed through the finish line but ended up second.”
Also, a high school soccer player, Keane will head to Park City for five-days-a-week, two-sessions-a-day dryland training before traveling to summer on-snow camps at Mt. Hood and in New Zealand. Like most national team skiers, her ultimate goals involve the World Championships and Olympics. Still, looking ahead to the upcoming season, she has short-term achievements to cross off her list.
“I’m hoping to make Junior Worlds, hopefully, get on the podium, hopefully, a Nor-Am title. I’m still on the younger side, but if I could get top three, that’ll be amazing,” Keane says.
Elisabeth Bocock, U.S. Ski Team
Meet U.S. Team Rookie and Rossignol/Look athlete Elisabeth Bocock. Hailing from Salt Lake City, Utah, Bocock, 16, becomes the youngest member of the U.S. Alpine Team. She learned to ski at Alta and Snowbird and, following in the footsteps of older brothers Jimmy and Scotty and sister Mary started racing for the Snowbird Sports Foundation at an early age. She continued on a similar trajectory as Mary, joining the Rowmark Ski Academy and then the U.S. Team.
“Growing up racing, it’s always been a goal,” says Elisabeth, whose family lived near the Alps in France for a year when she was young. “We went to a couple of World Cups in Europe and it was so cool to see the fans there. We used to make a trip to the Beaver Creek World Cup, and seeing [racers] compete at those made me really want to get to that level.”
Bocock had a breakthrough season for 2021-22, starting on the Nor-Am circuit and exhibiting her versatility for both speed and tech by landing a ninth and 13th in her first two Nor-Am alpine combined events as well as an 18th in super G. After finishing third in the giant slalom in the previous season’s National Junior Championships, Bocock won a National Junior slalom race at the end of this season.
“The culmination of this year has been my greatest achievement so far,” she says. But notes her first-ever Nor-Am, a GS at Copper Mountain, as her most memorable race.
As the 73rd starter, the teen charged to third place after the first run. Although she crashed in the second run, knowing she can put down a run like that gives her confidence about her future.
“I had never skied the hill before,” she says. “I remember going over the last pitch and thinking I was super late. I barely made it around the third to last gate. I was like, whoa, good thing I finished. Then I saw how excited everyone was and saw my time. It was the most exciting moment of my career.”
Bocock’s race hero is Italian World Cup all-arounder Marta Bassino.
“I’ve always been pretty small for my age. She’s also pretty small but has nasty turns, so I look up to her,” Bocock says.
In addition to skiing, Bocock is a high school soccer player and loves all team sports and hiking. She plans to attend a handful of camps this summer, including Rowmark’s. And she is looking forward to an organized workout schedule and more time on snow as a new member of the U.S. Team.
“Of course, everyone who skis wants to make it to the World Cup and the Olympics. I have those same goals,” she says. “But I don’t like to think too far ahead. I don’t like to build expectations and put pressure on myself.”