By JAMES COOK
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Ryan Haworth has been constantly on the move the last few years.
Now, he’s aiming to move up on the freestyle skiing ladder.
The Traverse City resident finished sixth in slopestyle at last month’s 2013 Junior Nationals in Park City, Colo., after winning the event’s Central Division championship.
“I feel like I could have done better,” Haworth said. “I didn’t land the run I wanted to in the finals. I qualified second in my heat. I landed my good run in the qualifiers, and then when it came down to finals, I didn’t land my second run as much as I wanted to. I definitely felt I could have been on the podium.
“But I felt pretty good (overall). I was one of two people doing doubles on the run, so I was pretty excited about that. I guess the judges were looking for something a little different.”
In slopestyle, the goal is to perform the most difficult tricks while getting height off jumps, with an emphasis on different types of tricks instead of doing the same one repeatedly.
In order to compete at the highest levels, Haworth and his father criss-cross the country to train and compete.
“You’re at Keystone one day in Colorado and then at Tahoe, after driving 17 hours non-stop to start training,” said Traverse City-based home builder Roger Haworth. “Then you turn around to get back to Keystone to get different equipment and jump on a plane in Denver to fly off to Minneapolis to get back two days two later to Aspen. That’s the way our winter went. We had one road trip that was 4,606 miles for eight days. There’s some good adventures. A lot of movies, a lot of music, a lot of junk food.”
Ryan lives part of the year in Colorado to have greater access to higher competition. He returns to Traverse City for parts of the summer, and sticks around for the fall, when he’s a starting midfielder for TC Central’s soccer team. Then it’s back to Colorado — among other places — for the winter, where he takes online classes through Central.
“It’s definitely nice to be back in Colorado for awhile and hang out and do some free skiing,” the 17-year-old said. “But being on the road was a lot of fun. I got to meet a lot of cool people and compete a lot. It helped me to learn a lot of new tricks to see what other people were doing.”
Currently, he’s sponsored by Nordica, Mad Owl, Drift Innovations, Orage, Marker Bindings, Skull Candy, Giro Snow and Level Gloves — and hopes to add more if he can land a spot on the professional circuit.
“He really wants to step up into the professional league next year,” Roger said.
In the meantime, Ryan is broadening his horizons, and is trying to get certified to teach for Broneah, the kite boarding and surfing arm of the M-22 brand. He’s going to Cape Hatteras, N.C., to get kite boarding certified later this month.
After all, what’s a little more travel?