Big dreams plus hard work is a simple but powerful formula for making great things happen. If you need any proof, just keep your eye on ski jumper Tate Frantz.

He’s a Lake Placid local who’s had skis strapped to his feet since the age of two and now at 18 is an elite level ski jumper rising in the ranks among the world’s best.

If adventure wasn’t a part of Tate’s DNA from birth, his family made sure to infuse it in him at an early age. He grew up skiing at Mt Van Hoevenberg and by the age of five was taking his first jumps on the beginner hills at the Olympic Jumping Complex.

Portrait of a smiling Tate Frantz indoors with a t-shirt on sitting with elbows on his knees.
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Tate’s naturally adventurous spirit led him to excel in many sports. In addition to soccer, lacrosse, and mountain biking, he also trained as a ski jumper and Nordic combined athlete in the New York Ski Educational Foundation (NYSEF) program at Lake Placid’s iconic jumps. He recalls one day in 2015 that he considers a turning point. Standing below watching older athletes jumping from the big tower, he told himself, “That’s what I’m going to do. I want to jump the big hill and fly far.”

And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Training with local NYSEF coaches Dave McCahill, Andrew Bliss, Larry Stone, and Colin Delaney, he grew stronger and flew ever farther each year, until at just 12 years old, he won the U.S. Junior National Ski Jumping Championship under-16 division in Anchorage, Alaska. The following year, he successfully defended that title at the 2019 Junior Nationals in Park City, Utah, and although the pandemic years prevented him from returning to those championships, he continued to work hard to achieve his dreams.

“I attribute everything I am today to my Lake Placid coaches because this is where I grew up, and it was under their wing that I developed as I did,” says Tate. With a high level of both technical and emotional skills instilled in him by coaches and parents, he became a driven athlete determined to go farther. Literally. Demonstrating very early on an uncommon level of personal independence and initiative, Tate taught himself to speak Norwegian and used those skills to apply to Norway’s top athlete training center.

About the same time, a formal partnership was established between national ski jumping teams in Norway and the United States, and by age 16, Tate was living on his own and pursuing his dreams in Lillehammer, Norway. “I enjoy it here,” he says, “I’m surrounded by a great group of people, many of them legends and celebrities in the sport who are now my teammates.”

Tate Frantz soars over the landscape in Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain in the background.
Tate Soars through the air over Lake Placid with Whiteface Mountain in the background.

The Rise Begins Where The Dreams Began

In March of 2022, he returned home to Lake Placid to compete in the FIS Continental Cup in Nordic Combined, two days of competition that included ski jumping at the Olympic Jumping Complex and Nordic ski racing at Mt Van Hoevenberg. On that first day of this international competition, then 16-year-old Tate surprised everyone by flying farther off the jumps than any other competitor. That towering achievement put him first off the line in the following day’s cross country race, and though he didn’t medal overall, he had achieved something remarkable on his home hill in Lake Placid.

Tate Frantz in a red jacket kneeling on the snow to stretch and looking at the camera with a slight smile.
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A few months later, after a knee injury prevented him from competing in the cross country portion of Nordic combined competition, Tate demonstrated further resiliency as he turned his focus exclusively to ski jumping, a move that’s been paying off brilliantly ever since.

That February following his injury, Tate came home to compete in his first World Cup as the youngest athlete on the circuit that year. Remarkably, the event was the first for Tate as well as the first FIS Ski Jumping World Cup competition held in Lake Placid in 30 years. “Getting to a World Cup is amazing,” says Tate, “but having it happen at home is extraordinary. It was a new event for me, and having the support of my hometown was super special.”

Within the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup circuit, he’s been on the rise ever since, performing better with each competition under his belt. In Ruka, Finland this season, Tate scored his first official World Cup points. Then in Wisla, Poland he placed 18th in the large hill HS134 World Cup competition, which stands tall as the single best performance for a U.S. ski jumping athlete in years.

Also in Wisla Poland, Tate soared high in the rankings in two official training rounds on two separate days, placing first in the world and beating out every single World and Olympic champion (video below). Though these were training round jumps, Tate’s performance among the world’s best is significant for the U.S Team and for someone who is yet again this year the youngest athlete on the World Cup tour.

Tate is currently the top performing U.S. athlete on the FIS Men’s Ski Jumping circuit, ranked 45th in the world, and that 18th place finish in Wisla was the highest Individual World Cup finish since Kevin Bickner was 18th in the Individual HS134 in Nizhny Tagil, Russia on Dec. 2, 2018.

One day this month in Szcyrk, Poland, in the individual competition on the HS104 hill, Tate rose to 16th position overall. Unfortunately, the remainder of the day’s competition was canceled due to high winds. “There are always ups and downs in this sport,” says Tate. “I plan on riding the highs and turning the negatives around whenever they come up. Right now, I have a really good rhythm going in competition and momentum on my side.”

Tate Frantz walking with skis over his shoulder and spectators in the background.
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From Ski Jumping to Sky Flying

Also this month, U.S. Ski and Snowboard announced Tate will be one of five athletes to represent the U.S. Ski Jumping Team at the 2024 FIS Ski Flying World Championships in Kulm Bad Mitternforf/Tauplitz, Austria later this month. Clearly excited about the fast approaching event, Tate says, “It’s a 240 meter hill, almost twice the size of others on the World Cup circuit. I never had any training at ski flying, and this will be the first time for me to legally try it. It’s going to be a wild ride and a new experience.”

With winter competition heating up around the world and more options on the table now for Tate to make his mark, he’s recently made the difficult decision not to return to his hometown Feb. 9-11 for the upcoming FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Lake Placid. Instead, he will be traveling to Slovenia for the Men’s Junior World Championships. “Junior Worlds is something I’m eligible for only a short time, and it only comes up once a year. It’s a big event at this point in my career, and I have a good shot at a medal. I won’t put too much pressure on myself, but I want to jump well and get ranked as high as I can.”

Tate Frantz flying high on a jump with big mountains in the background.
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And so, as the hard work continues with regular training and travel week after week throughout the season to competitions the world over. A senior in high school at age 18, Tate not only remains today the youngest athlete on the World Cup tour but also one whose hard work, dedication, and courage is paying off as he lives his dreams every day, rising in the ranks and soaring though the winter air as he competes head to head with the best ski jumpers on Planet Earth.

Says Tate, “This year is my first full World Cup circuit, and there are so many new experiences along the way. Above all, I’m thankful for the hometown support. That makes it all really special.”

Tate Frantz in the landing area after a jump, skis in one hand and giving a thumbs up with the other.
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