If you attended the Mammoth Invitational this year, you may have noticed a new face in the coach lineup. Aaron Durlester, a professional freeskier and graduate of Mammoth High School and MMSST, joined us at the Mammoth Invitational to help raise money for the programs that helped him get to where he is today.
We interviewed Aaron the day before his 21st birthday, and he told us all about his career as a professional competitive halfpipe skier. Originally from Southern California, Aaron started as a Mighty Mite with Coach Starla. “I owe a lot to her,” Aaron shared. After a few years following the race team track, Aaron decided to switch to freeskiing when he was 11 years old. By the time he was 15, Aaron moved to Mammoth fulltime and hasn’t left since.
When the time came to make a decision about committing to freeskiing, Aaron and his family considered a few options. “The FLEX program was a huge reason why we decided to move to Mammoth over other places,” Aaron said. “They have such a strong and flexible schooling schedule.”
By the time he was in 11th grade, Aaron spent most of his winter competing, traveling regularly for NorAm and World Cup comps. “Mr. O’Neill helped me get assignments done and move my tests to before or after travel competitions. That was a huge stress relief when I was traveling,” Aaron mentioned. “MMCF after-school tutoring also really helped me, especially in math.”
Right before graduation, Aaron received a Senior Scholarship from MMCF that helped him launch his career as a professional competitor and part-time student at the University of Utah. Since then, he has traveled all over the world for halfpipe competitions and training camps. Currently, Aaron is ranked 32 for Halfpipe in the World Cup and 4th for Halfpipe in the NorAm Cup. When he’s not traveling, Aaron loves returning home to Mammoth to work on creative film projects. He’s picked up sponsorships from K2, Smith, Dakine, Outdoor Tech, Honeystinger and most importantly, a sponsorship from P3 Freeride Ski & Snowboard Shop here in Mammoth.
“FLEX is definitely one of the main reasons why I am where I am today,” Aaron shared with us. “It taught me a lot about time management and self discipline. Now that I’m in college, I’m a lot more prepared. FLEX helped me get better and better at getting ahead on work when I know I have a lot of travel coming up.”
To wrap up our interview with Aaron, we asked if he had any advice to give to current FLEX students. “Have your own take on skiing and what makes it special to you, and stay true to that,” Aaron shared. “Also, the best skiers are the ones that are having the most fun.”
This past year, 29 students enrolled in the FLEX program at Mammoth High School. MMCF is proud to offer this program and watch student-athletes just like Aaron excel in the classroom and on the slopes. We’re incredibly proud of our program graduates and look forward to seeing where our current students will go!
To learn more about the FLEX program, click here.