Get To Know SYNC Team Member Hunter Salani
SYNC Staff Member + Former NCAA Athlete Rachael DesRochers chatted with SYNC Team Member Hunter Salani to learn a little bit more about how his season went.
Can you tell us your name, age, where you’re from, and who you ski for?
My name is Hunter Salani, I am 18 years old, and I am from Vail, Colorado and ski for Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.
How long have you been in Vail?
I was born and raised in Vail.
You are a true Vail local! Are you graduating High School this year?
I am graduating this year from Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy.
How has the format of VSSA helped you with your skiing?
I think it has been really good for my skiing. I have been going there since fifth grade. Having the mornings off and being able to train without missing school is super beneficial for staying on top of schoolwork. The schedule also makes traveling easier for races because if you miss a handful of school, you have the tools to be able to get caught back up much more quickly than a normal High School schedule.
So since you are graduating High School, do you see yourself taking any post-grad years?
I am going to take a post-grad year this next year. I’m not sure what I’m doing yet as far as who I will ski with but will definitely be taking a PG year. (Following this interview Hunter was selected to the U.S. Ski Team for next season)
What would be your goals coming out of a post-grad year?
My goals would be either making a college team or the U.S. Ski Team. (One out of the two goals down)
How was your season in a nutshell? Any highlights?
My biggest highlight was going to World Juniors in St. Anton, Austria back in January. I was in Europe for about two and a half weeks. I was able to train before the races at a couple of places and then I raced the Downhill and Super-G at World Juniors. It was super cool because it was after the World Cup and all that stuff was still up and they streamed the races so it felt very official.
So you race all events, but your main focus is speed?
Yeah, I kinda focus on speed but I do all four events. I came into this year not doing as well in Slalom but I started to pick it up and get much better. However, speed is where a lot of my success has come from this year so it has been a focus but I still really enjoy GS and Slalom.
What are some tips for young skiers who are just starting to race speed?
I would say at first it’s always a little scary, especially for those younger kids, but once you start to get comfortable, those fears will start to go away. My best advice is to do a lot of training before you start racing.
Do you have a favorite place you’ve trained or raced?
After this year, my favorite place would have to be St. Anton, Austria. That resort is amazing and I was able to free-ski the mountain for a little bit and really get the whole experience.
Now that the season has come to a close, what are your plans for summer?
I honestly don’t know my exact plans but start working out a lot and work on getting stronger for next season. Also golf a lot.
What’s your best Golf score?
I shot a 71 at a High School Tournament last year, but hopefully I’ll break into the 60’s soon.
For off-snow training, what is an exercise or activity that you think is beneficial to your skiing?
Agility work is super important so you have the ability to make quick saves if you get off balance while skiing. Also doing cardio that involves a game or sport. I think playing a game that involves running takes your mind off of the actual running part and makes it more of an enjoyable experience.
Have you ever competed in any other sports and how have those helped with skiing?
I played High School Golf all four years. We actually won States last year for Vail Mountain School which was super awesome. I also played Lacrosse for VMS but not this last year because I was going to be gone skiing during most of the Lacrosse season and I didn’t want to let my team down because I wouldn’t be able to attend some games and practices.
What made you apply to the SYNC Team?
What made me apply was seeing all the older athletes who were on the SYNC Team and really looking up to them. They also had special suits and jackets that were made just for them and I always wanted to be a part of that. So I applied for 3 years and finally got onto the team this year which I was super excited about. Also, the media day we did this year was awesome because we had the big cameras, the drones, and GoPros out filming us and the end results were so cool.
Any advice for athletes applying to be on the SYNC Team?
Make sure you have a good solid application, really highlight your best results, and provide good photos and videos. Just don’t rush the application and really take your time.
Do you have any favorite SYNC products?
I’d say my favorite SYNC products are the race suits because when compared to other companies the suits are super tight and don’t really stretch out but SYNC suits after a few uses stretch to fit your body nicely making them really comfortable. I also recommend getting the Race Suit Bag so you are able to store your suit in it while traveling so it doesn’t get damaged.
Did you watch many World Cups this last year and who is your favorite athlete to watch and why?
I would have to say Marco Odermatt. He is just so good at pointing the skis down the fall line and going for it. While his skiing may not be very pretty, those aspects make him so fast. It’s just inspired me to have the mindset of who cares what I look like skiing, I just need to go for it.
How about some lighthearted questions now. Do you have a favorite bib number?
My favorite bib number is 18 because of my favorite NFL player and I also got that number for Nationals last year at Vail so I train in that bib all the time.
Do you have any funny race, training, or traveling experiences?
Yeah, before I was going to Sun Valley this year for U.S. Nationals we were training Super-G and I was training on a pair of Alice McKennis Duran’s old skis because I didn’t want to train on my race skis. I had sworn my coach said that I could bring them to Sun Valley and use them on the free-ski day so I was two hours into the drive and I received a text from my coach asking where the skis were and I told him I had them. Then he said that the skis weren’t supposed to go to Sun Valley so I waxed the skis and didn’t touch them the whole trip.
What’s your essential race day snack?
Probably sandwiches and maybe energy gummies before your race. Also lots of water.
Any specific sandwich?
I like salami sandwiches. (Salani, salami, same thing)
Love it! Well thanks for chatting with me today and good luck with your next season!