Created: 21 September 2020

Big Mountain West freeskier Bennett Balogh is making big moves on and off the hill. Photo: VAST 2019 Nationals.

Jackson, Wyoming is known for its natural terrain and elite pedigree of big mountain snowboarders and freeskiers which is exactly why 15-year-old freeskier Bennett Balogh grew up dropping cliffs and hitting jumps versus doing cruiser laps through a mini-park. It wasn’t until he was 10 years old that a USASA Big Mountain West event came to Jackson Hole and his view of what freeskiing was forever changed. “I didn’t think competing in freeskiing was a thing you could do,” Bennett said. But once his eyes were opened by his first USASA competition Bennett set his sights on the competitive path. 

Bennett standing tall on top of the podium at the 2020 Big Mountain West podium at Grand Targhee. Photo: Holly Balogh

In the five years since he dropped into his first USASA event, Bennett has been on a steady, determined climb up the US Freeskiing pipeline. In 2019, he qualified for USASA National Championships and was even more inspired and motivated by what he saw. “My first nationals I was super nervous but it was really cool to see so many people, and to see them doing what I was doing. And to see where I was at [skill wise] compared to everyone else.” Bennett said, “I was inspired by what I saw there and it showed me what I had to look forward to and what I had to learn.” Bennett has been making quick dedicated progress up the Freeskiing pipeline landing on the podium at regional Big Mountain West events and competing in The Futures Tour stops with his eyes honed on an Olympic start. “I want to go to the Olympics to take my skiing to the elite expert level and really pursue my passion of skiing to the fullest and to really try to be the best.” And for Bennett this isn’t just some lofty dream, he’s putting in the work on and off the hill. At 15 years old, when most kids are kicking off their sophomore year, Bennett spent the summer completing his sophomore year with online schooling from CMASA and is currently taking pre-calculus from Arizona State University so he can focus solely on skiing all winter. 

And while Bennett definitely has a one-track mind when it comes to freeskiing, he is far from one-dimensional. For 8 years, Bennett’s other love has been music specifically piano and flute. In 2018, Bennett received The Director's Award for Band, the highest honor for an outstanding 8th grader, as well as a superior ranking on his spring 2020 piano recital, the highest mark you can get, as part of the Utah Conservatory. When asked about the contrast between training for freeskiing and practicing sonatas Bennett appreciated the reprieve, “Mountain biking and skiing are really active sports so it’s nice to have something different to come home to. I can just practice piano and relax.”

Bennett with Mom Holly and Grandmother Diana Banas at USASA National Championships 2019.

With the support of his parents Holly and Matt, Bennett shifted his home base from Jackson, WY to Park City, UT to train with the Park City Ski & Snowboard team. This move gives him access to parks and pipes and both Park City Mountain Resort and Woodward’s new Park City facility along with unique dryland training on the US Ski & Snowboard’s airbag at the Utah Olympic Park. And by the looks of his freshly acquired airbag Flat Spin Triple the move and hard work appear to be paying off. 

Bennett and friends at Woodward post Big Mountain West awards. Photo: Holly Balogh

Access to some of the best training facilities in the world is great but Kim Raymer, Big Mountain West Series Director, notes that what makes Bennett’s path up the freeskiing ranks unique is not just that Bennett is a focused athlete but that Bennett and his family are active members of the USASA community. “Bennett has a driven, quiet discipline, he trains hard, doesn’t complain, and is one of the kindest, most thoughtful athletes; constantly giving of his time, and acknowledges his peers.” Raymer goes on, “He’s the kid who is always checking in on his fellow athletes, and connecting with other younger athletes and encouraging them. You can tell he cherishes the community he is in. His respect for those who are supporting him in on his journey from his parents to his coaches, fellow athletes and all of us at USASA is a cool dynamic.”

Bennett agrees and feels supported and connected to the USASA community, “I’ve met so many new people through USASA and everyone at Big Mountain West is super friendly, pushing each other to land new tricks. Even during inspection, we’re all talking about tricks we can do.” 

What’s next on Bennett’s list of tricks to do? Bringing that triple flat to snow and mastering Jeff Manookian’s Etude #2.

Fun Fact: Bennett can solve any cube in under a minute and a 3x3 Rubik's cube in under 30 seconds. 

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