A skiing prodigy: Stanwood’s Emma Emmorey wins 2014 NASTAR National Championship

STANWOOD — At nine months old, most children are just trying to learn how to walk.

But for Stanwood resident Emma Emmorey, 9, walking wasn’t enough. So when her father, Jeremy, was looking for a skiing buddy to accompany him out on the slopes, he brought a nine-month old Emma out skiing with him.

Emma Emmorey

Emma Emmorey

Flash-forward more than eight years later and Emma has now developed into one of the top young skiers in the country, with Emma recently taking first place in her division in the ages 8-9 category of the juniors slalom race at the 2014 NASTAR National Championships at Snowmass Ski Area in Aspen, Colo., on March 25-30 with a time of 41.04 seconds. Emma also placed 13th in the giant slalom at nationals.

“It was really exciting,” she said .”It was awesome. I really liked the mountains. I liked how the hills were steeper and it was a fun challenge.”

In addition to her individual accomplishments at nationals, Emma said her favorite part of competing in Aspen was getting to meet Olympic skiers like Bode Miller, Ted Ligety and Steve Diamond.

While she has now turned into a rising star on the national skiing scene, Jeremy said Emma received plenty of attention on the mountain when she first started skiing.

“All my brothers and sisters moved to Ohio and I wanted someone to ski with,” he said. “She was walking, so I put her in a pair of skis and she took off pretty fast. It didn’t take her long at all to get it. You get a lot of people who can’t believe how good she is because she’s not very big, so they think she’s even younger than she is.”

So at nine-months old, Emma got her first season pass at Crystal Mountain up in Thompsonville, just south of Traverse City, and she started to learn the tricks of the trade, although turning was something she had some trouble with in the early going.

“She was a very good skier, but she didn’t want to turn, so that’s how I got her into racing,” he said. “Crystal gets really packed on the weekend and I wanted her to be able to turn, so one way to do it was to get her on a race course and she’ll turn a lot more. That’s how she got into racing and she’s just taken off from there.”

By the age of four, Emma said she started competing in organized races at mountains across the state and the country and soon started turning heads with her performances.

With her interest in the sport growing by the day, Emma soon started training weekend after weekend over the next few years to get to the level of expertise she’s at today. It didn’t come without hard work and sacrifice, though, both by Emma and her family.

“We travel a lot,” Jeremy said. “She’s raced all over. We’ve probably skied about 100 days already this winter. We’re going to get really serious with it next year once we hire a coach. She’ll be skiing six days a week next year.”

Stanwood resident Emma Emmorey (center) stands on the podium after taking first place in her division in the ages 8-9 category for the juniors slalom race at the 2014 NASTAR National Championships at Snowmass Ski Arena in Aspen, Colo. on March 25-30. (Courtesy photo)

Stanwood resident Emma Emmorey (center) stands on the podium after taking first place in her division in the ages 8-9 category for the juniors slalom race at the 2014 NASTAR National Championships at Snowmass Ski Arena in Aspen, Colo. on March 25-30. (Courtesy photo)

As she’s progressed her skills to the level where she’s competing on the national stage, Emma said she now has the goal of beating her idol Mikaela Shiffrin, who became the youngest slalom champion in Olympic alpine skiing history this year at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, at 18 years and 345 days.

“I actually drew a picture saying I’m going to go to the Olympics someday,” Emma said. “I want to get to the Olympics by the time I’m 17 to beat Mikaela’s record.”

That goal seems to be in reach after Emma broke onto the national scene this year.

To get to nationals, Emma had to beat the U.S Ski Team’s qualifying times at Crystal Mountain to qualify for the NASTAR Midwest Championships at Welch Village in Minnesota, with Emma qualifying for the Midwest Championships by ranking first in the state of Michigan in her age bracket in her events.

Emma kept her stellar run going at the Midwest Championships, finishing first in the platinum division in both the slalom and giant slalom to advance to nationals.

With her skiing accomplishments making news both on the national and local levels, Emma has become a local celebrity of sorts. She has a fan page on Facebook, with 226 fans liking her page to date, and she’s also had the support of her classmates and teachers at Morley Stanwood Elementary School, where Emma is currently in third grade.

“She came back from nationals and she was pretty excited,” Emma’s mother Melissa said. “Her class made her a good-luck card before she left. It’s been pretty special for her.”

It looks that plenty of special things are in Emma’s future on the mountain, but all Emma’s worried about right now is having fun doing the thing she loves the most.

“It’s just fun no matter what,” Emma said. “I go skiing every weekend and I love it.”

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