Even though the winter sports season is slowly coming to a close in Summit County and across the U.S., the season is still going strong in terms of high-level competitions overseas.
One such competition yet to occur this winter season is the 2023 Ski Cross Junior World Championships in San Pellegrino, Italy, and Team Summit’s Walker Robinson is set to compete in the event after a breakthrough ski cross season on the Nor-Am Cup and International Ski Federation (FIS) circuit. The 16-year-old standout is set to compete in Italy in his first junior world championships from March 27-28.
He began skiing when he was around 2 years old while his family was living in North Carolina. After spending his younger years back east, Robinson and his family made the move to Summit County when he was around 8 years old. Joining Team Summit in the family’s first year in Summit, Walker started to expand upon his preestablished skiing skills.
Robinson began competing in Alpine, before moving to park and pipe disciplines and eventually settling primarily on ski cross.
“I started in Alpine and then I switched over to park and pipe,” Robinson said. “Then I wanted to try to find something in the middle and ski cross is right in the middle of those two. My dad’s friend wanted me to try (a ski cross race) so I tried one and I really liked it.”
Robinson said the sport didn’t click right away — initially, he found himself struggling to fully settle in.
After a period of struggle, Robinson found his groove in the discipline and has steadily improved since then, even making his first Summit Daily headline at the end of the 2020-21 ski season for winning all six of his Rocky Mountain region ski cross competitions.
“The first couple years were kind of a struggle and then something just changed,” Robinson said. “Things started to take off.”
Over the last two years, Robinson has continued to sharpen his skills and as a result has earned respectable finishes throughout the 2022-23 competition season. Robinson’s highest finish so far this season occurred at a FIS ski cross race at Gore Mountain Ski Area in New York.
Robinson placed eighth overall in the competitive field, which included much older talent from across the U.S. and Canada.
Robinson says keeping up and continually improving upon the basic fundamentals needed to excel in the sport has led to his rise in the standings over the last few seasons.
Ski cross requires each racer to know how to ski fast and manage jumps while maneuvering around other racers on the same course.
“You have to have every tool in the bag,” Rodney Robinson, Walker’s father, said. “From the speed of Alpine, to the start training with ski cross, but then the air awareness to know where you are in the air. All while going 50 (mph) while going side by side with someone.”
Robinson still regularly competes and trains with the Team Summit Alpine ski team in order to keep his fast skiing skills in check.
“Training more with the Alpine team is definitely helping my skiing,” Robinson said. “Then also all-around freeskiing stuff, I want to be a very diverse athlete. Being good at skiing in all areas.”
Beyond being named to his first junior world team, Robinson was also recently named an official Copper Mountain Resort athlete for his accolades in ski cross, motocross, and surfing.
The official support from Copper in the form of sponsorship means a lot to the young athlete, who has spent the last 8 years training on the mountain next to his home.
“It is nice living here because I can just walk out my back door and go skiing,” Walker said. “I like how Copper actually has a ski cross course. It’s really nice because there aren’t really any other ones within a 15-hour drive from here. It’s pretty special to have one and be able to train on it.”
When Robinson is not training, competing or doing school work through Colorado Connections Academy, Robinson often gives back to the Team Summit program by being the race starter at the organization’s Bubble Gum race series and acting as a role model for younger athletes.
The effort to be a mentor and role model for Team Summit even resulted in Robinson winning Team Summit’s Pay it Forward award at the end of last season.
“A lot of people have always helped me to get me where I am so I just want to give back and help them too,” Robinson said.
Heading into his first junior world championships, Robinson is hoping to represent the U.S. team by doing everything in his power to get a win.
“I was super stoked to get the invite and had a lot of mixed feelings,” Robinson said. “I just want to go out there and get the win.”
In the next few years, Robinson hopes to continue to excel in the sport while keeping his focus on the Nor-Am Cup circuit.
“This year and the next year I want to mainly focus on Nor-Ams and see where it goes from there,” Robinson said. “Possibly try a world cup out next year if I have enough points and then for sure get in a world cup the year after that.”
While in Europe for the junior world championships, Robinson will also compete in a series of races in Austria and at the Italian National Championships.
Robinson will compete from March 27-28 with the ski cross results being posted on FIS-Ski.com.
With the Robinson family responsible for all expenses to and from the event a GoFundMe page has been set up in order to help the Robinsons afford the cost of Walker attending junior world championships.
Donations can be made at GoFundMe.com.
By: Cody Jones - email@example.com