Turning Heads in the Junior Olympics
“Mitchell is probably one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known in my life. Mitchell has overcome a lot of difficulties from his early years. He had a rough start from birth. He got better, we did a lot of work together.” -Kelly, Mitchell's mother
"You can take yourself to the sky."
"Once you can break that barrier that other people's opinions don't matter as much, you just kinda say okay, fine, and have fun with it...it's a good feeling."
Mitchell Jones is definitely reaching for the sky…or rather for the bottom of the skeleton track. Mitchell, 18, has been racing down the Olympic Training Center Track in Lake Placid since he was 11 years old. And by racing, I mean traveling 70 miles per hour, belly-down, headfirst, down a narrow track made of ice on what looks like a very small sled. Talk about guts.
Years of training, getting to know the right people, and working with a team and coach has given Mitchell the opportunity to hang with the best...in the world. Hours at the gym and on the track earned him a place in the 2016 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in chilly Lillehammer, Norway. He placed number 13 in the world and number 2 in the U.S.A. Not bad for a 17 year old from little ol’ Saranac Lake, NY. His mom was pretty proud, too.
It has not always been easy for Mitchell. In addition to his relentless training, he balances school (did I mention he’s an Honor Roll student), extra-curricular’s, and a technology internship, while also making time for family and friends. Last year, he missed two months of school to compete in Austria and Norway. But he has a superior support system including his mother – Kelly, father – Michael, and three sisters. They are a tight-knit family that take much care and pride in each other’s interests.
Mitchell also admits that sometimes it’s hard for other athletes to relate to him. He says, “It’s not recognized as much as somebody playing lacrosse or football or baseball. People can easily go to their games and see what they’re doing….With skeleton you don’t get that as much….It’s not really a school sport.”
Despite the challenges, he loves what he does. You can definitely hear the excitement in his voice when he describes maneuvering through a turn or beating his own records.
When we asked what advice he has for his peers, he immediately recognized that it can be hard for kids to find something to get excited about in the Adirondacks. But he says, “You just have to get to know people….Definitely try everything once, if you can. If you’re shy, I know it sounds cheesy, but try not to think about what other people are thinking of you. Once you can break that barrier that other people’s opinions don’t matter as much, you just kinda say okay, fine, and have fun with it. Once you get to the point where you can break past that, then you’re set, and you can be confident enough to be ok with that. It’s a good feeling.”
What's next for Mitchell? His next aspirations are more academic, and he has his sights set on a career in engineering. He's currently attending college where he is studying electrical engineering.
Mitchell spent a lot of time training at this Olympic facility, as well. Check out the slopes, tracks, and trails this site has to offer for both the serious winter athletes and the casual beginner.
Do you know someone who excels in art, music, athletics, academics, or is just plain awesome? We are looking for exceptional teens who live in the Adirondacks to feature as our next Hot Shot. Send us your nomination or feel free to nominate yourself here.