Caldwell ladies aerials Rookie of the Year

06 February 2010 09:59

While she may have thought her year couldn't have gotten any better, it did last week when 16-year-old Olympian Ashley Caldwell (Lake Placid) was named 2010 FIS Freestyle World Cup Rookie of the Year in aerials. The honor was handed down after a jury of international coaches concluded that Caldwell stood out among her peers.

"I was happy when I found out. It was another thing to add to my list of accomplishments this year, so it's awesome," Caldwell said.

Caldwell won the U.S. Selections event this season to make her way onto the U.S. Ski Team, and the World Cup circuit. Once she was competing on the international circuit, Caldwell locked in three top-15 results, including a 10th in Deer Valley and an 11th in Calgary, landing her a spot on the Olympic Team.

"I worked really hard over the summer and, being 16, I didn't really have expectations for the results during the World Cup tour," Caldwell said. "I'm really excited to have done well and happy to be named rookie of the year."

Caldwell, who grew up in Hamilton, Va., was a gymnast who saw freestyle aerials on TV and wanted to give it a try. After a camp in Whistler and a summer working with noted coach Nick Preston in Waterville Valley, N.H., she became one of the first athletes in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's Elite Air Program in Lake Placid. Under Coach Dmitry Kavunov she advanced quickly, making it to the World Cup in only two years.

As for the actual award and where she will keep it, Caldwell has a spot in mind - Lake Placid, where she spends her summers training and water ramping.

"I hear I get a trophy but I haven't seen it yet. It's supposed to be pretty big, I'm excited to see it, it's my first real trophy," Caldwell said. "I'll probably keep it in my room in Lake Placid."

The next stop for Caldwell - Vancouver, where she will be the youngest U.S. Olympian.

"I'm excited, I feel like it is going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life," Caldwell said.

Fans can catch for Caldwell in her first Olympic event Feb. 20, during women's aerials qualifications.