The force of the turn nearly pulled Jared Goldberg off the treacherous Beaver Creek race course.
But years of free skiing at Snowbird in the world-famous Utah powder allowed the 21-year-old who grew up in Holladay to recover from a near crash and hold on for the best World Cup finish of his young career.
"It was pretty incredible," said Goldberg of finishing 30th in the Super G event at the Birds of Prey World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Dec. 1.
After that, the Skyline graduate won two NorAm downhill races and then claimed the U.S. Championship in downhill at the U.S. Ski Team Speed Center in Copper Mountain, Colo., on Dec. 7.
It was a whirlwind of success worthy of the ski racer who learned to love the unpredictability of an 80-mile-an-hour race by first enjoying the freedom of Utah powder skiing.
"Free skiing and just having a good time, you learn how to make good recoveries on a race course," he said. "Free skiing made me more versatile and helped me be able to make recoveries when the course gets really bumpy, which it did the other day. I was able to stay on my line and get to the bottom. I definitely think it was free skiing that helped me win the race the other day."
The newly crowned U.S. champion got his start in Killington, Vt., when he was just 2 years old. His parents were ski instructors who decided to move to Utah — for the skiing — when he was 4.
He began racing at age 6, but didn't take it seriously until he was about 15.
"Back then I just did it for fun," he said. "I got to ski around with my buddies, and we did a race every two weeks. Everything was really local."
Those were the days he opted to play in the powder, trying out new tricks and exploring ever-changing terrain, rather than seriously training. But eventually the lure of speed outweighed the freedom of the powder.
"I love doing this," he said. "Going 80-plus miles per hour — even up to 90 — it's the most exhilarating thing ever."
His father was a ski instructor for Snowbird, but both of his parents spent most of their time in the mountains.
"We'd all go up and ski or just spend time in the mountains," he said.
Goldberg said he's enjoying how quickly his career has taken off, especially in light of next year's Olympic season.
"It's actually going pretty fast," he said. "A lot of people peak around 27 to 32. You have to learn all the downhill tracks, inspect the course and know where to be. I feel like I've gotten ahead a little in this last week."
Goldberg's first World Cup start was in Lake Louise (Alberta, Canada), which he said helped him feel less nervous when he competed at Beaver Creek.
"The first time I was pretty nervous," he said, admitting it wasn't just the world-famous competition but also the television attention and massive crowds. "It was good to get the first one out of the way."
He said his teammates aren't just some of his favorite athletes, they're mentors who are helping him in practical ways on race day.
"They give me information, let me in on stuff that I would just have to figure out on my own," he said of Steve Nyman (Provo) and Marco Sullivan (Lake Tahoe). "They help me just relax and have fun. It's really good to train with those guys. Skiing with them gives me the confidence to know I can ski with those guys in a World Cup race."1 comment on this story
As to whether the Olympics are a realistic possibility, he is certainly feeling more optimistic after earning the U.S. Championship.
"It's a possibility for sure," he said. "I have a lot better chance of going. It took me three days to move my ranking from 160 to the top 50. I have plenty of time, and I'm just starting to do World Cups. It's definitely a goal of mine."
Follow Goldberg's season at http://www.jaredgoldbergskier.com/.