Athletics & Recreation / Magazine Feature / People

Zeal for big air leads alumna to Winter X Games

When Keri Herman (BSBA ’05) started college at DU she intended to use her finance and marketing degree in the ski industry. But even before graduation it became apparent that her aptitude for big air could lead to big rewards.

Herman learned to ski at an early age but spent little time on the slopes before moving to Colorado from Minnesota in 2001. During her junior year, for fun, she started entering local competitions at Copper and Loveland ski resorts. Her frequent victories attracted attention and she began receiving money to compete.

By 2006, fun had turned into a career. She’s sponsored by big names in the industry like Spyder, Salomon, Scott, as well as Jiberish, Dakine, Discrete Headwear and Breckenridge Ski Resort. Herman, too, has become a big name in women’s freeskiing.

In January, she will compete in the first women’s slopestyle event at the 2009 Winter X Games.

In slopestyle competitions, skiers ride rails, slide on boxes and execute a repertoire of tricks off jumps and on the half pipe, all while speeding down the mountain. Herman’s personal arsenal includes the “cork 7” — a trick where she goes off a jump and does a 720 degree, off-axis rotation in the air before landing.

“I love jumping,” Herman says. “I love being in the air. The bigger the jump the better.”

Herman hopes that she and her competitors can make women’s slopestyle a mainstay in the games to rival the better-publicized snowboarding events.

“It is such an honor to be one of eight girls invited. I can’t wait to prove to everyone that we deserve to be involved,” Herman says.

During ski season Herman is a fixture in Breckenridge, Colo., where she lives and trains, spending between five and six hours a day on the mountain, learning new skills and fine-tuning others. When the summer snow-drought begins, Herman heads to Wanaka, New Zealand, to hit the slopes at Snow Park ski resort.

Despite her rigid practice schedule Herman characterizes her days spent training as time spent with friends, whom she credits with keeping her motivated. Herman describes people as her favorite thing about being a pro.

“It’s really good to be surrounded by people who love skiing as much as I do.”

For up-and-coming athletes who aspire to make a living on skis Herman offers the simple approach that has brought her success and just might bring her X Games gold.

“Get out on the hill every day and don’t be afraid to fall. Keep pushing yourself to try and learn new tricks, and keep a positive attitude.”

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