Picture this: Mid-season moguls on Telluride’s famed Chair 9 terrain. One local skier launches into Kant-Mak-M. She links turns down the fall line and heads for the cutoff to Spiral Stairs, down Spiral Stairs, and then she skis over to the Lower Plunge to complete an epic Telluride bump run, nonstop.
Meet Ella Jansen, 16, a Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club freestyle skier who was recently named the top dual moguls skier in the Rocky Mountain region.
Her results in single moguls and dual moguls, including podium finishes at the U.S. Junior Nationals and the U.S. Nationals, earned Jansen a trip this week to the prestigious U.S. Selections event in Steamboat Springs.
“Ella’s come a long ways growing up with the club in Telluride, and she’s taking her skiing to the highest level,” said Ryan Van Nuys, the club’s freestyle and big mountain program director. “She’s looking to compete against other top (mogul) skiers in North America.”
The U.S. Selections event will determine this season’s final allocations to the NorAm tour and the World Cup. NorAm events feature skiers from the United States and Canada who are bidding for World Cup opportunities.
Jansen is currently ranked eighth nationally among dual mogul skiers ages 18 and younger. She’s also ranked 15th nationally among all female dual mogul skiers, including the members of the U.S. Ski Team.
“She is super-intelligent, and she thinks through the whole process of mogul skiing,” Van Nuys said. “That’s kind of a common thread among top mogul skiers.”
He said she works hard in all the different aspects of her sport, from aerials to strength training to on-the-hill mogul practice.
“There are so many aspects in mogul skiing, and you do it all in 20 to 30 seconds,” Van Nuys said. “In reality, there is a long history of mogul skiing in the Telluride club. It’s good to see the next generation of skiers coming along.”
Jansen qualified for all the NorAm events last season and is hoping to earn NorAm start positions again this season.
“It is super-exciting to be here (at the U.S. Selections event in Steamboat),” Jansen said in a phone interview this week. “This is the fun part.”
She outlined the week-long program in Steamboat that will include training days, singles elimination mogul competitions, as well as dual moguls showdowns.
Plus, she said, members of the U.S. Ski Team are on hand to train and compete as well.
“It’s always fun to watch the U.S. Ski Team. You can see they are really, really good,” Jansen said. “It’s something to reach for.”
The Telluride High School junior said she grew up skiing with her family.
“My dad really wanted us to learn to ski the moguls,” she said of her bump-skiing family, including older brothers Tyler and Will. They both advanced through the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club as mogul skiers.
As a youngster, she said she would chase her older brothers down the moguls of Chair 9. That’s where she developed an affinity for the Kant-Mak-M to Spiral Stairs to Lower Plunge combination.
“It’s always been a family thing,” she said. “I had to keep up with them.”
And she started early.
“I first started competing when I was 6,” she said. At age 9, she joined the moguls team.
While she enjoys the challenges of mogul competition, Jansen said she really likes mogul skiing because of the people involved in the unique sport.
“It’s that community of mogul skiers. You want to do well and you want them to do well also,” Jansen said. “I’ve met friends from other mountains, from all over. I’ve gotten to ski so many great mountains … like Snowbird.”
She’s also competed at Killington, Calgary and Deer Valley, among others. At Deer Valley, she skied on the Champion run used in the Utah Olympics. “Telluride is my favorite mountain, of course. But I’m biased.”
She also watched Telluride’s Keaton McCargo compete in dual moguls at the most recent Olympic Games, and drew inspiration from the Telluride Olympian.
“It was cool to see someone from our little town,” said Jansen, adding that many of the top mogul competitors hail from larger clubs like Ski and Snowboard Club Vail and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Her pride is evident as she represents a small ski club while attending Telluride High School as a regular student with a standard academic load.
“Our school has always been super-helpful and supportive,” she said. “The teachers work with us.”
She gets her assignments done in advance of her trips to the various competitions.
“School’s always the main focus,” she said with a nod to her older brothers. Tyler Jansen is now a junior at Yale, while Will Jansen is a freshman at Penn.
“It is nice to represent the small club,” she said, quick to credit a legion of “amazing coaches” at the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club.
She’ll also work this week with Al Mickel, a longtime freestyle coach based in Durango. His son Charlie is schedule to compete this week as well.
She’ll also have the company of a handful of other Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club athletes this week.
In addition, she’ll have help from former Telluride freestyle coach Jeff Yingling, who’s now based in Park City — home of the U.S. Ski Team.And, Olympian Troy Murphy also will work with the skiers in Steamboat.
But for Jansen, the daughter of Lynn and Daniel Jansen, the foundation of her skiing rests with her family.
“My family has been amazing,” the grateful Jansen said. “My parents have driven me all over … countless hours on sketchy mountain roads.”
She’s equally grateful to her hometown.
“The whole Telluride community is always there for us,” she said. “Really, there’s nothing like mogul skiing. It’s the style of skiing Telluride is known for.”