The big air competition features skiers hitting a 70-foot jump and traveling 100 feet in the air. Competitors are given two runs and are judged based upon their trick’s degree of difficulty, style, amplitude, and execution. Grush’s favorite trick is a “Misty Five,” which is a front flip with a 540-degree spin, and a nose -tail grab, which looks like a flying letter X. Grush perfects his style at Mount Snow, launching off a relatively smaller 80-foot jump on the Inferno slope 20 times a day.
Grush qualified for the Junior Nationals by winning the New Hampshire Open at Waterville Valley Resort, grabbing the #1 seed in the East for qualifying riders. “I was pretty confident at the competition because I really just focus, and it goes by really slow when you’re in the air,” said Grush. “I always go really big and make sure I stand straight up on the landing because it’s a big part of the score.”
Grush was runner-up only to Eric Loughren, an 18-year-old member of the US ski team. Grush and Loughren were the only two competitors who recorded scores of 80 or more on their runs. Grush had taken a spill in practice the day before, breaking his helmet and suffering whiplash, but it didn’t slow him down. “Everyone hits the same jump, but everybody does different tricks,” said Grush. “We (Loughren and Grush) were definitely above the pack, and we were definitely the ones really pushing it out there.”
Grush attends the preparatory school Suffield Academy in Suffield, CT, where he plays defensive back on the varsity football team. But to Grush, hitting the pads and hitting the slopes are two different levels of competition. “Hitting those jumps never gets old, it’s a thrill, and you can’t get that feeling anywhere else.”
Grush says that next year he’ll be ready to take up those international invitations, and plans to work on incorporating double flips into his jump routine.