St. Mary’s University athletes vie for Winter Games glory

Athletics and Recreation
May 31, 2024

The Olympian and the rookie

by Leticia Romero

Winter Vinecki, a lifelong skier and athlete, competed in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in aerial skiing before launching herself into a new venture — the St. Mary’s University School of Law’s Online J.D. Program

Collin Storms (B.A. ’22), a lifelong baseball player and former Rattler Baseball pitcher, had never been in a bobsled before he entered a virtual combine for the Team U.S.A. bobsleigh team.

Although they had never met, their paths tie them from not-so-snowy St. Mary’s University to the same Olympic training facilities in Lake Placid, New York.

“I love to see another athlete who chose the same school I have to learn and grow not only as an athlete, but also as a person,” Vinecki said. 

Robert Coleman, Executive Director of Athletics at St. Mary’s University, said he’s proud to see St. Mary’s athletes, such as Storms, perform at this level.

“His success competing on the world stage allows our current student-athletes to believe in their dreams and strive for the goals they have set for themselves,” Coleman said. “We wish Collin and Winter the best of luck as they prepare to represent their country — and the Gold and Blue — on the national stage.”

A Season of Winter

Named after her mother’s favorite season, Vinecki and her family were always outdoors. She ran her first triathlon at age 5 and became the youngest person to run a marathon on all seven continents, just shy of her 15th birthday.

Online J.D. student Winter Vinecki competes in the 2024 Intermountain Health Freestyle International Ski World Cup at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. Photo credit: Steven Kornreich

Her grandfather taught her traditional skiing as a child. She then took up ski racing before she met Olympian Emily Cook, who encouraged her to drop ski racing and try aerial skiing.  

In aerial skiing, athletes ski down a steep slope, launch from a vertically inclined ramp, perform multiple twists and flips in the air and land on an inclined hill.  

After a trial run in Salt Lake City, Vinecki was hooked. She moved in with a host family at age 14, qualified for the U.S. Ski Team in 2016, competed in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and has competed professionally ever since.  

Throughout her training, Vinecki has mostly attended online school. The School of Law Online J.D. Program — the first ABA-accredited online program in the nation — made her dream of attending law school a reality. She began classes in Fall 2023, calling it all a balancing act.

Vinecki said she became one of the first American women to complete a triple backflip on snow, “all while in my first semester of law school during finals week.”

“It was pretty cool to know that I can do both at the same time,” she said.

A Season of Storms

Storms, of Lewisville, has been playing baseball since he was 2 years old. As a healthy pitcher, Storms could pitch a 90- to 93-mph fastball. But he couldn’t fully recover his pitching speed after an injury to his shoulder during his senior year at St. Mary’s in 2022, while earning his bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science

Former Rattler Baseball pitcher Collin Storms shows good form as he pitches during a St. Mary’s 
University Baseball game in 2021.
Former Rattler Baseball pitcher Collin Storms (B.A. ’22) shows good form as he pitches during a St. Mary’s University Baseball game in 2021.

Because of his running speed, his rehab trainer mentioned bobsled as a future career. Despite the time and financial commitment, Storms was interested. 

After an impressive virtual combine showing in 2023, Storms was invited to rookie camp in Lake Placid, where about half the camp consisted of athletes who had also never been on a bobsled. 

“If you can push a heavy object and run fast, you’re probably going to be good at bobsled,” Storms said. 

Bobsleigh, or bobsled, consists of teams of two or four people racing down an ice-covered incline on a sled at speeds of up to 93 mph.

Storms made a name for himself at rookie camp, getting credit for never missing an opportunity to slide, filling in as brakeman (the person in the back who stops the sled) for a seasoned pilot (the person in the front who steers), and for taking bumps and bruises in stride. 

“It was just six days straight of sliding,” said Storms. “This track here is like the roughest in the world. It’s a headbanger.”

Storms will complete his first year of racing in July. Despite being in the early stage of his bobsleigh career, he has already competed in a few World Cup events, the highest level of competition for winter sports between Olympic years.

Storms and Vinecki both experienced the family spirit of St. Mary’s and have taken that with them in their international travels for competition.

“It’s really cool because it is such a community,” Vinecki said. “I’ve just gotten a ton of support from the staff and St. Mary’s in general and also my classmates.”

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