Austria's Max Mortl is expected to qualifies for his fourth straight appearance at the World Juniors. Considering he's won every Austrian Nationals title in his age group since 1991, it would be a shock if he didn't qualify.
At the 1992 World Juniors, Mortl celebrated his 11th birthday at the tournament in Colombia. He finished 18th that year in tricks, then moved up to 10th in 1994 and sixth two years later. By summer 1998, Mortl will be a seasoned 17-year-old and a medal threat.
Says his former coach, Joel McClintock: “He definitely has the talent to trick 10,000 points in the next few years. More than anything will be how he handles being competitive against the best skiers in the world. Skiing in the World Juniors has given him great perspective of what it's going to take.”
The only holdup might be Mortl's new passion for wakeboarding. It took up the bulk of his off-season, during which he trained with world-renowned coach Mike Ferraro in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“He's all over wakeboarding,” says Ferraro. “He's so talented. It's just a matter if he can take the beating.”