Made of the right stuff: 15 minutes with up and coming aerialist, Jayden Cooney

Last year we caught up with Perth teenager and up-and-coming freestyle aerialist, Jayden Cooney (see article here).  Jayden’s story is truly inspiring.  With a background in trampoline gymnastics, Jayden was encouraged by none other than current Olympian, David Morris, to make the switch to freestyle aerials.

So with precisely zero skiing experience, Jayden traveled to Melbourne to commence training at the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS).   Later that year she was invited to travel with the VIS to Utah, USA, for more advanced training, before once again heading back to Mt Buller, where she stayed for the majority of the 2017 winter season.  Jayden’s goal is to ski in the 2022 winter Olympics in Beijing, China.

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since we spoke with Jayden, so we thought it was time we get an update on what shes been doing. When we caught up with Jayden, she was nestling back into life in Perth, where she was enjoying a short break before heading back to the eastern states for more water jump training.

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Ski school for future Olympians

SRA: Last we spoke you were heading to the USA for training with the rest of the Aussie team. How did you go?

Skiing for the first time on international slopes was an incredible experience as well as getting to experience some very deep powder, which was certainly a challenge at first but extremely fun at the same time.

During my time in the Utah we had the opportunity to watch an Aerial Skiing World Cup event at Deer Valley. This was my first time experiencing the world of aerial skiing on a competitive stage because unfortunately there are no world cups events in Australia. The event certainly sparked a fire inside to hopefully one day go from watching in the crowd to the one being watched.

I also got to experience my first ever White Christmas.  While I did miss my family who were forced to endure Perth’s 40 degree heat being able to go outside and watch snow falling on Christmas morning was a childhood dream come true. Utah provided us with waist deep powder on Christmas morning too, so we couldn’t ask for much else.

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SRA: Did you get to train with Aussie greats Lydia Lassila and David Morris? They must be great mentors?

Our world cup team was in the middle of their competition season so we were fortunate enough to watch a few training sessions alongside other countries including Belarus and Ukraine. Watching the top athletes train is an incredible experience and knowing that many started out like me is inspiring. Not only are they incredible athletes but they are generous enough to go out of their way to mentor those of us coming up through the ranks. I was fortunate enough to have David Morris mentor me through the program from the day I submitted my application.

SRA: Describe going off the big jumps for the first time – how scary was it?

In Utah we had the chance to hit some bigger jumps for the first time and have a go at skiing down the aerials landing hill. The nerves were certainly racing as we hit speeds around 50/60 km/h into a direct stop but it is a rush you can’t get doing anything else. The jumps and the speed will only get  bigger and faster from here on in and I cant wait for it to come!

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Having a flipping good time

Have you started jumping on snow yet, or are you still training at the water parks?

I have just started doing somersaults into water and upright jumping on snow. I still need to get a lot more numbers done on water before I can transfer these to snow but hopefully this time next year I’ll be flipping on snow.

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No friends on powder pond swimming days

Do you get much time off to go and say….just ski powder?

Our technical ski coach Chloe Merry is a powder enthusiasts so whenever there is a large snow dump in Utah you’ll always find us skiing knee deep powder amongst the trees.

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Jayden with the rest of the team

Where to now for Jayden Cooney? What the goal?

Currently I am focusing on my technical skiing and getting the fundamentals of aerial jumping secure before ramping it up in the coming months. The long term goal is to represent Australia on the world stage and be one of few athletes who have can say they have represented their country in World Championships events for both a summer and a winter sport. The ultimate goal is of course to become a winter Olympian.

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