Former student dies

Ryan Hawks, 25, a former UVM student, died from injuries resulting from an attempted backflip at the Freeskiing Championships in Kirkwood, Calif. on Sunday, Feb. 27. Hawks grew up in South Burlington before attending UVM and was a member of the Vermont-based ski group Green Mountain Freeride, according to the group’s website. During his time at UVM, Hawks studied mechanical engineering and took spring semesters off to focus on skiing, according to the Freeride website. “[Hawks’] pursuit of skiing was front and center,” Assistant Director for Outdoor Programs John Abbott — who taught Ryan in his Wilderness Education and Leadership course — said. Hawks was a part of the UVM community even as a young child, attending film events with his father, Abbott said. “[Hawks] exuded a lot of passion and enthusiasm and, given his talents and skills, didn’t have any sense of superiority. He was engaged and friendly,” Abbott said. Friend, teammate and fellow Vermonter Lars Chickering Ayers grew up skiing with Ryan at Mad River Glen, Abbott said. Ayers described Hawks as “one of the happiest people we’d ever met. He brought that to the ski community,” according to ESPN.com. “My father always said, ‘A skier carries his own skis.’ — so I learned how to carry my batman skis by the age of two and have been skiing ever since,” Hawks wrote on the biography page of the Green Mountain Freeride website. This was the third death of a competitor in a big mountain free skiing competition in the past couple of years, according to ESPN.com.