Around the middle of the World Cup moguls season, Alex Jenson asked herself a question. Can I see myself doing everything I need to do to keep this up next season?

More specifically, Jenson asked herself, am I ready to hang it up?

After strong showings at Shymbulak, Kazakhstan in the final World Cup event of the season, followed by a pair of top 10 finishes at the national championships last month in Waterville Valley, N.H., Jenson knew her answer.

“The big thing was, I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish,” Jenson, a Waterville native, said. “With Kazakhstan, I really wanted to leave this sport on a positive note.”

Jenson announced her decision, as athletes often do these days, on Instagram. Jenson posted a photo of an empty mogul course.

“Walking away with two new ACL’s, 10 World Cup starts, and 15 years of memories. Thank you mogul skiing. I had a blast!” Jenson wrote in the photo’s caption.

So at 24, Jenson is now a former World Cup skier, and ready to take the next step in her life. Even coming off her first full season competing on the World Cup level, there were no guarantees she’d be able to do it again next winter. Team USA’s mogul team is deep and competitive. If there’s even the tiniest doubt you’re willing to put in the time, it’s better to step away.

Mogul skiing takes its toll on the body. Every run through the bumps is a pop quiz for the body’s shock absorption system. Every aerial move is a test of dexterity and equilibrium. You are going to be sore. You are going to get hurt. Scars are a given occupational hazard.

Jenson takes a deep breath before listing off each of her injuries.

There was the torn ACL in her left knee in 2013, the result of a fall training. There was a tibial plateau fracture in 2015, and she skied on that, thinking it was a bone bruise. There was the torn ACL in the right knee in 2017, caused when Jenson was hit on the slopes by a snowboarder soon after she made her World Cup debut at Lake Placid, New York.

“You need the mindset to really push through,” Jenson, who was a state champion in the 100 meter hurdles and triple jump as a junior at Waterville Senior High School in 2012, said. “It’s tough at the end of the day when the adrenaline is gone. I came out of it healthy… I think I was a lot stronger than I knew I was, mentally and physically. You learn when it’s OK to push yourself, and when you should hold back.”

Jenson took lingering off and on knee pain as a sign to maybe it was time to move on. After the national championships in mid-March, where Jenson placed sixth in dual moguls and seventh in moguls, she relaxed and skied with friends at Sugarloaf.

“I was still very much on the fence at that point, but leaning towards retiring,” she said. “It really wasn’t a hard decision. It feels right.”

Jenson was 15 when she competed in her first national championships in 2010 at Squaw Valley, California. She was a last second addition to the field, after a strong showing in some Eastern Cup races. Jenson placed 25th in dual moguls and 35th in moguls, and learned.

“That’s kind of where my whole career started. I built on that every year,” Jenson said.

That career included eight appearances in the national championships. Jenson finished in the top eight in moguls are nationals four times. She placed in the top nine in dual moguls three times at nationals. Jenson’s seventh place mogul finish March 2 at the World Cup stop in Kazakhstan was her best World Cup finish and second World Cup top 10. The first was in her debut at Lake Placed in 2017.

Go out on a high note, with no regrets.

Now Jenson will focus on completing her undergraduate work at the University of Utah. She’s two years from a Biology degree. She’ll resume classes in May with the start of Utah’s summer session. After graduating, Jenson hopes to move on to medical school. She will not be a retired athlete twiddling her thumbs while looking for new challenges.

“The next six years are kind of figured out,” she said.”Skiing’s about momentum. Now I need to use that in school.”

Jenson spent the last week coaching a moguls camp at Carrabassett Valley Academy, where she learned how to ski the bumps. Jenson plans to stay involved in the sport as a coach with her former team, Park City Ski and Snowboard, for as long as she’s in Utah. She’ll coach CVA students when she’s in Maine for winter break.

Jenson learned a lot in her career, and it’s time to pass that along.

“I was able to ski a full World Cup tour and travel the world. Ending on that top 10 (finish) is a good way to go out,” Jenson said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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