Ty Wellman, a Boyne City, Mich., teenager, competed in the 2010 FIS Junior World Championships held in New Zealand last month. He was but one of 15 teens selected from around the world to compete in the freestyle halfpipe event; one of four from the U.S. and the only Heartlander. Others came from the hosting country, Canada, Switzerland, Japan, and Korea.

"It was quite an honor to be picked. I was elated when I got the news," said the modest 17-year-old, who considers Boyne Mountain his home hill.  "It's the biggest competition that I've ever attended."

He was one of the youngest at the Junior Worlds, which are for ages 16-21. His biggest competition prior to competing down under had been the U.S. Nationals last season at Squaw Valley where he placed 21st. He finished 14th, next to last in tough conditions at the New Zealand event.

"It was snowing and fog had started to roll in," Wellman told OnTheSnow. "We were supposed to get two runs, and we ended up only getting one.  It should have been the better of the two. I was trying to just get a feel for the halfpipe on the first run and fell.  I really wanted to get that second run, but it was still a great experience."

The twin-tip skier went down early to get some practice time in with U.S. Ski Team Freestyle coaches. The freestyle halfpipe event was held the second to last day of the competition, which was held Aug. 21-30.

"I didn't finish like I would have liked, but the time spent with the coaches was priceless," he added.  "It got me off to a great start this season. I plan on being gone most of the winter to events throughout the U.S. and working with my coaches."

Wellman, who was home only about a month last winter, takes his high school courses online. The credits are all transferable to his local school.

He was 11 when he first discovered twin-tip skiing in the halfpipe.  He won a competition at Boyne Mountain and never looked back.  He plans on going to school at the University of Utah next year after graduating high school.

"I want to keep competing in the halfpipe, and hopefully work with the U.S. Freestyle Team (located in Utah).  My goal is to make it to the X-Games, and, if they add freestyle halfpipe skiing to the Winter Olympics, make it to Russia in 2014," Wellman added.

He credits being able to ski and compete in Boyne's Superpipe and the Olympic-cut halfpipe at Otsego Club in nearby Gaylord as being great assets to his achievements thus far.

"We have some great learning tools right here at home in Michigan. I don't feel I was disadvantaged at all growing up here rather than the mountains," he proudly enthused. "Olympic teams from around the world were coming to Otsego Club last winter in January to train for the Games in Vancouver. I got to meet a bunch of them."

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