Hutch works to become Olympic ski jumper
In a lot of ways, Tyler Hutch is just like every other 18-year-old senior in high school. He plays guitar, his favorite subject is history, and he's got friends and hobbies to keep him busy in his free time.
But in one big way, Tyler Hutch is very different from other 18-year-old seniors. Not every high school kid can say they've competed in six different Junior Olympics.
Hutch is a ski jumper, and has been since he was five years old.
"My parents took me to the ski hill near Grand Rapids, and I loved it." Tyler said.
Neither of his parents ever ski jumped, but maybe it was fate that led the Hutch family to the hill that day.
"My parents both cross country ski so (my sister Holly and I) got into skiing at a young age," Tyler said. "My parents saw flyers for a 'Learn to Ski Jump Day' and thought it would be fun."
Since then, he's been a part of the Itasca Ski Club in Coleraine, Minnesota. It was there that former Olympian ski jumper Jon Denney became Hutch's coach.
"He is an amazing coach," Tyler said. "I wouldn't be where I am today without him."
Thirteen years later, Denney is still a huge part of Hutch's life.
"The best part about him being my coach is his professional advice and great attitude," Tyler said. "(The best advice he's ever given me is) don't think too much. That helps me keep a level head and focus on the important aspects of ski jumping."
The Grand Rapids senior spends the majority of his weekends competing in ski jumping competitions, and 13 years of experience has paid off. He won the bronze medal at the Junior Olympics in Steamboat Springs, CT in 2010. He also got fifth in Salisbury, CT, seventh in Ishpeming, MI, and 12th in Park City, UT.
His first two Junior Olympics were located in Lebanon, NH, and Anchorage, AK. One of his favorite memories is still that first time he arrived in Lebanon almost seven years ago.
"It was the first big competition I was in," Tyler said.
Now that he's 18, his Junior Olympics days have come to an end. Which means the next stop in Hutch's ski jumping career is, hopefully, the Winter Olympics.
"That's definitely a long-term goal," Tyler said. "I need to train much more often (to prepare). That means weight lifting, running, and skiing."
Competing in Sochi, Russia, as an Olympian in 2014 would probably top the list as one of Hutch's greatest lifetime accomplishments. Until that happens, something else ranks No. 1 on that list for now.
"Being selected to travel to Italy for a week for a competition is my greatest accomplishment," Tyler said. "It was an FIS Cup in Predazzo. It was an amazing experience and really helped me with my jumping."
His favorite part of the trip, he said, "was the amazing Italian food."
He's a skilled ski jumper, and he really loves the sport. It's that passion that may play a big role in his success.
"My favorite thing about ski jumping is going huge! Going far is the best feeling in ski jumping. It's what I live for," Tyler said. "My skis (are my most prized possession). I love ski jumping."
When he was younger he used to cross country ski and play soccer, but these days he's turned all of his focus to ski jumping. Since he's a senior, he'll be graduating this spring. For most kids that means starting college in the fall, but Hutch is planning to continue focusing on ski jumping.
"I'm considering taking a year off to train," he said.
When the time does come for him to go to college, he doesn't have any idea yet what he'll study, but his dream job would be something involving photography.
For now, he's just hoping for a picture-perfect career as a ski jumper.