Noah Giron sets up to start a training session in Laax, Switzerland, in early December prior to his first ski cross World Cup appearance.
Courtesy Noah Giron
Noah Giron has been on skis of some kind since he was age 3.
In fact, access to the snow was one of the reasons his parents moved to Carson City when he was younger.
Giron’s dedication to skiing from a young age has pushed him through doors he didn’t even think existed when first arrived at Carson High School.
“I think when I started my first two years of high school I was convinced I was going to be going to college out of high school and that I was going to be following a more stereotypical career path,” said Giron.
Since graduating in 2018, it would be difficult to describe Giron’s pursuits into the sport of ski cross as anything remotely close to stereotypical.
Finding the right event
Initially, Giron raced alpine skiing, or clearing gates, as he sped down the selected route as fast as possible.
The particular event never quite captured what he was looking for, before a coach of his suggested ski cross.
Ski cross and alpine skiing share some similarities, but instead of individually clearing gates, Giron was competing against fellow skiers on winding downhill courses with jumps and steep, banking turns.
He started racing with the Squaw Valley ski team and worked his way up to bigger and bigger events before he got a hint of what could be.
“I got a taste of what it was like to compete at an international level. I really, really loved the atmosphere and the feeling of that pressure. I think by the start of my senior year, I was fairly convinced this was the direction I was going to chase,” said Giron.
He chatted with academic advisers and pondered academic scholarships of a collegiate route, but with the success he was having, the consensus decision was made.
Less than two years after graduating, Giron was racing in his first FIS Ski Cross World Cup as part of the U.S. Ski Cross team.
Giron has had the chance to compete all over the world.
In a non-pandemic year, he’d be traveling to Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South America to follow the snow or “chase winter” and continue training.
The competitive season runs from October through March, so Giron is coming out of his first season of true competition with the US Ski Cross team at the World Cup.
“Since this was my first season on the World Cup and I didn’t race all of them,” Giron said. “I would like to be a little more competitive, have tighter splits and be a little more in the mix when it comes to qualifying runs in the World Cup.”
Of the 50-75 competitors that enter the Ski Cross World Cup, only the top 32 are taken to the finals.
With the top 32 finishers consistently separated by a total of about two seconds, focusing on all the intricacies and minute details in a run is paramount for a top time.
“It’s all about having consistently perfect qualifying runs, so I guess getting consistently perfect is the goal, but nobody is consistently perfect,” Giron said.
He has time to learn, as Giron said male ski cross athletes tend to peak in their mid-to-late 20s after they’ve had time to perfect maneuvering and memorize tracks.
“In each turn, the way we pressure our skis, the angle of our feet, our line choice through the turn, that can all be hundredths (of a second) here or there,” said Giron.
The goal is to create the least amount of drag possible, while also maintaining balance and finishing in the fastest time possible without colliding against other competitors.
Like fellow Carson High graduate and Olympic hopeful Chase Blueberg, Giron and the rest of the ski cross team is forced to fund their own way.
Giron competes for a Canadian program called Evolve while still donning a U.S. bib and works during the summer to help continue to pay for his dreams.
“We don’t get any funding from U.S. Ski and Snowboard. We are trying to change that,” said Giron. “Right now, ski cross is getting higher ratings and has a ton of support in the U.S.”
It all makes Giron happy, though.
The travel, the work, the commitment and the dedication are all worth it for one of the best ski cross athletes in the country.
The pandemic has made his near future a little uncertain, but Giron knows for a fact come September he will be back in Switzerland competing.
Picking up new languages, trying new food and seeing new courses – such as Val Thorens in France – has made the adventure surreal.
“It just made me really happy,” said Giron. “The winter is where the snow is though and the snow makes me happy. … We’re supporting ourselves up to this level. It’s definitely worth it because we get to do what we love.”