Aaron Gwin threw a leg over a bicycle for the first time at 4 years old. It was a BMX bike to which he immediately adapted and became a front-runner in his age group. At 6 years old, Gwin had already picked up national level sponsorship and was ranked top 5 in the World. Two years later, Gwin decided to halt his cycling career to return home and live a normal childhood. He continued to challenge his athletic abilities taking up traditional sports and excelled in baseball and football. He soon found himself back on two wheels as he began racing motorcycles at the local motocross tracks in his early teenage years. Injuries plagued him throughout his motocross career and although he had some success he soon found himself looking into other options. Gwin was set to start college when a childhood friend invited him to come and mountain bike with him. Now at 20 years old, Gwin rode his first mountain bike. Gwin had a natural gift for downhill mountain biking that was apparent from the first time he jumped on the bike. His friend encouraged him to race, and a few weeks later, he was on the line for his first pro downhill mountain bike race. Gwin placed 3rd overall, and with the desire to continue to improve his skill, signed-up for as many races as he could the following first few months of 2008. On a borrowed bike, Gwin repeatedly landed on the podium and after only 3 months of racing had been offered an opportunity to race the remainder of the 2008 US National Series races for Yeti Cycles. That year would set the pathway for what has been a remarkable ride for Gwin, who is the most successful American downhill racer to date. Gwin won his first US National level race a few months later in Snowmass Village, CO which encouraged Yeti to further extend his contract and give him the opportunity to race his first World Cup in Quebec, Canada the following week. In his first-ever World Cup race, Gwin earned a 10th place result that was the best finish by an American rider in the previous four years of racing. Not only did Gwin turn the heads of fans worldwide, but he continued to impress the masses by besting that score at the World Cup final in Austria with an 8th place result. His impressive top ten finishes in his rookie season of racing, earned him a full-time contract to race the World Cup Series in 2009 and 2010. Quickly into the 2009 season, Gwin found himself on the podium at the third round of the World Cup Series after finishing 3rd. He earned two more podiums that season and finished the year 9th overall. He would continue to grow and improve as a rider and earned four podium finishes in 2010 and increased his overall ranking in the World Cup standings to 4th. His quick success landed him a ride on the Trek World Racing Team for 2011 and 2012. During those two years, Gwin was nearly unstoppable. In 2011 he won a record breaking 5 of 7 races, to complete the most dominant World Cup season in the history of the sport. His victories earned him his first World Cup title, the first for any American racer in the history of World Cup Downhill racing. Gwin's confidence rolled over to the 2012 season, where he again put in a remarkable effort winning four races and securing his second World Cup Championship title. In 2013, after one of the most talked about moves in the history of the sport, Gwin signed with the Specialized Racing Factory Team. Gwin was plagued with crashes during his 2013 season which led to inconsistent results. Gwin was able to secure his fourth US National Championship title, but a few weeks later injured his shoulder in a crash during the World Championship race in South Africa. His injury caused him to sit out the remainder of the World Cup rounds.Completely healed and ready to get back to his winning ways, Gwin returned to the South Africa track he was injured at for the opening round of the 2014 World Cup Series. In a truly remarkable comeback story, Gwin captured the win at the opening round and was the point's leader at the end of the event. He continued to lead the championship hunt heading into the third round. It was at this halfway point in the season, where Gwin had one of the most remarkable rides of his career. Gwin took off for his run but ran into early problems when his rear tire flatted and eventually completely detached from the rim. To everyone's amazement, he continued to charge down the hill in a notable effort to salvage all points. The crowd cheered and stood in disbelief as his bike somehow made it down the entire run. Despite his best efforts, Gwin's time was not competitive that day and would ultimately cost him the World Cup championship that season. But in return, gained him the respect of thousands of fans across the world for his relentless effort and continued smile as he crossed the line knowing he had given it his all. The character Gwin is on the track is consistent with who he is off of the track which has made him one of the most popular icons in the world of downhill racing today. In only a short time since first picking up a mountain bike in 2008, Gwin has become the most successful American racer in the history of the sport. And he is not finished yet. As of press time, Gwin has already proven he again has what it takes to remain at the top of this sport. He took a dominating win at the opening World Cup round of the current 2015 season in Lourdes, France. He then followed that up a week later with his second victory at the popular one-off Sea Otter Classic race. Although the future cannot be predicted, it is safe to say that Gwin is well on his way toward a potential third title and will bring his best effort toward accomplishing that goal.
In order to be named to the Academic All-Star class athletes must compete at one of the USA Cycling National Championships and have a term GPA of at least 3.5.