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Springville native sets his sights on 2014 Winter Olympics

A normal day in the life of 2010 Springville Griffith Institute graduate Alex Bowen does not involve college. Instead, he gets up at 8 a.m. and bounces on a trampoline. He then moves on to the ski hills and chopping up snow for a safe landing.

No, this isn't some bizarre routine for Alex. For the past two years he has been living in Lake Placid, training to be an aerial skier for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.

For those of you who don't know what aerial skiing is, it is skiing down a hill, launching off a huge ramp, and twisting and flipping around in the air.

"For me, [aerial skiing] is just plain fun, and like you are flying, then crashing for a few seconds," 18-year-old Alex said. "It has all the excitement of a trampoline, but you are much higher in the air with more flips and twists."

Alex has been on skis since he was 1. He was carried in a backpack when his parents would cross-country ski before advancing to bigger hills, with a leash tied around his waist to keep him from falling.

He began his skiing career at Kissing Bridge, through youth programs such as Animal Crackers and Bridge Busters. When Alex decided to move away from ski racing, he began his aerial instruction with coach Mark DePeters at Buffalo Ski Club. He learned how to hit the jumps and land in water so he wouldn't get hurt.

Lake Placid is in the Adirondacks and was the host of the 1980 Winter Olympics. In 1982, Lake Placid opened up a training facility for athletes in everything from wrestling to synchronized swimming to skiing.

Alex lives in an apartment there with a roommate and travels all over the United States and Canada for competitions.

"Squaw Valley in California is the coolest place I have ever skied," said Alex. "It had the most terrain, and had a very remote setting -- [It has been] like one long vacation."

The summer is actually the busiest time for Alex.

"The most important exercise that I found out I need to do is swimming. It is a full body exercise, and I go to the Springville High School pool often," he said. "I also do regular weight lifts during the week, and many gymnastic-based exercises."

He also has had some odd jobs washing dishes during the summers.

Usually, Alex trains five days a week, six hours a day. Once a day, he goes off the ski jumps.

He loves skiing and does very well, placing first two years in a row at the Junior National Championships.

But he does wish he could have done some things differently.

"I wished I could have done both [skiing and school] entirely. I missed more school due to skiing than skiing due to school my senior year," he said. "I drifted away from a lot of my friends in high school [because of] skiing, but got to see the closest ones when I came home occasionally, and others I do ski with. I was very disappointed that I was not able to spend my senior year in high school while Poey [his younger sister] was a freshman. Being away so much made the times that I did come home very special though."

In his junior year of high school, Alex went to Waterville High School in New Hampshire for three months during the winter. Waterville specializes in skiing. The teachers from Springville Griffith Institute and Waterville worked together so Alex could get all of his schooling done. In his senior year, Alex went into Springville about 10 times to acquire all the things he needed to finish the three classes he had left, e-mailing the finished work to his teachers between all of his skiing.

The decision to hold off college was a tough decision for Alex.

"I realized I was in no rush to grow up," he said. "People go to college or go back to college in their 30s and 40s, but once I get that old I won't be able to do aerials. Aerials is something I won't be able to do forever, so I am going to go as far as I can with it while I can."

Although he missed a lot of school, he hasn't had to miss too much skiing.

"Everybody always has injuries within their sport Just this year I gave myself an ankle injury and a concussion, each separately, between two competitions," he said. "One was on the day of and the other on the day before the competition and resulted in me not being in the competition. Everybody gets hurt, but so far I haven't put myself out of aerial skiing for too long."

For now, Alex is just working hard to get to the Olympics. He also plans on taking some college courses online.


Alissa Roy is a sophomore at Springville Griffith Institute.

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