The down low on junior Max Osterman’s downhill

Katie Parsons

“I would definitely say I’m an adrenaline seeker. [Skiing] definitely feeds that. I like the freedom; I can do whatever I want. If I’m feeling relaxed, I can have a chill day, or if I’m feeling energetic, I can push myself to the limit,” junior Max Osterman said. 

Osterman clicked into his first pair of skis at the age of three and has been skiing competitively for the Squaw Valley competitive team since the winter of 2018. During the winter season, typically from late Nov. to April, Osterman attends practices every weekend, leaving Corte Madera on Friday afternoons and returning on Sunday evenings. 

Max’s father Garth taught him to ski at the age of three.

“[Weekend practices] have definitely had an impact on my social life. I don’t get to hang out with my friends nearly as much as I used to, but I love skiing, so it’s worth it for me,” Osterman said. 

Being on the ski team is not only a large commitment for the skier but for parents as well. According to Max’s father, Garth Osterman, Max’s appreciation for skiing makes it worth it. 

“Any parent is going to tell you that it’s really tough, but [Max] makes it that much easier because he is so committed. You can never get [him] to wake up early for any other sporting event. But he will wake up as early as he needs to ski. It is the one thing that he’s like, ‘Yes, I want to do this,’” Garth said. 

Living in Marin provides some challenges for Max as he isn’t able to ski every day like the majority of his teammates who live in Tahoe. However, according to Max’s coach, Colin Gordon, his inability to ski as frequently has fueled his desire to improve and keep up with his peers. 

“For those that have to commute and don’t get to ski as much as the rest of the team, it’s a disadvantage. But I think it makes [Max] that much more fired up,” Gordon said. “He’s been able to progress a bunch. He gets a lot more confident and skilled and is getting better every day.”

According to Max, one of his greatest accomplishments was landing his double backflip on Dec. 8, 2019. 

Training for advanced tricks is extremely dangerous and can often result in injury, which Max has experienced first-hand. In the winter of 2015, Max was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance after suffering a major fall in Sun Valley, Idaho. 

“He couldn’t move and [the doctors were] worried about his neck and spine. It was extremely emotional. It was the first time we experienced what could happen if he hurt himself,” Garth said. 

However, even after this experience, Max has not let fear overpower his drive. 

“Fear is a big thing, but I just kind of learned to not let it get to me. The more worried I am at the top [of the run], the better it feels when I land [a trick]. I kind of use that fear to push myself and get better,” Max said. 

Max and  Jack Lyons preforming a backflip.

Max’s teammate, Jack Lyons, lives in Tahoe and has been on the ski team for nearly eight years. According to Lyons, Max came into the season nervous but has since gained a new confidence that has enabled him to outperform his competition in races and become a ‘hype beast’ for the team. 

“[In the beginning], [Max] didn’t want to try as much stuff as I wanted to. Once he gained confidence, we started to feed off each other and do crazy stuff…Max is more advanced than me now, I would say,” Lyons said. 

Max’s confidence in skiing has not only impacted his performance on the slopes but his character overall. 

“The first time I saw him around the mountain, it gave him so much confidence to be on Squaw competitive team with the way he smiled and how he handled himself,” Garth said. “That confidence translates to everything. I think he’s always been a confident kid, but [skiing] has really created a maturity.” 

In a typical practice, Max and his teammates ski a variety of runs on the mountain with their coach to enhance skills and practice new tricks. Although Max enjoys working alongside his teammates during practice, the independence of skiing alone in competitions allows him to hold himself more accountable. 

“I would say that the team aspect is a lot different for me. For skiing, you’re on a team, but it’s not like other sports playing on the field with other kids,” Max said. “You’re on a team, but you’re also kind of by yourself…and I like that. If I make a mistake, it’s on me.” 

Photo courtesy of Max Osterman.

Although Max’s time on a competitive team has been relatively short thus far, he hopes to continue skiing in the long term. 

“In the future, I hope to get better. Getting a sponsor and competing [professionally] is what I’m working towards,” Max said. “I just want to continue what I love doing.”