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Aerial skier, 17, dies at home in Rochester

October 27, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A 17-year-old member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Elite Aerial Development Program based in Lake Placid died in his sleep Saturday, Oct. 21 at his home near Rochester.

Michael "Mikey" Lillis was found unresponsive Saturday morning by his parents at their family's home in East Rochester, according to a statement from U.S. Ski & Snowboard. Lillis was staying there while he was on a break between pre-season training camps.

"We are a family and as a family our entire team grieves for Mikey, his own family and his teammates," U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a statement. "We'll remember him for the pathway he was following and the goals he was beginning to achieve. Our condolences go out to his parents Bernie and Jamie and the entire Lillis family."

Mikey was one of three brothers who were members of the Elite Aerial Development Program with Jon Lillis, 23, and Chris Lillis, 19. The two brothers both received the news of their younger brother's death while at U.S. Ski & Snowboard's pre-season aerials camp in Switzerland and subsequently returned home to be with their family in western New York.

"All we can do is make sure the boys get home, and try to help the family," Tom Kelly, the vice president of communications for U.S. Ski & Snowboard, said in a statement. "We're reaching out to the coaches, and Mikey's teammates, to make sure they're OK."

Mikey Lillis left Lake Placid a week ago and was scheduled to return for a second training camp there this week. Except for a few athletes who had already arrived in Lake Placid, that camp was canceled, Kelly said.

Kelly added that along with his brothers, Mikey Lillis was a rising star in the EADP program. He finished in the top three three times on the NorAm developmental tour, and placed in the top 10 a dozen times. Jon is the reigning world champion and Chris won his first World Cup a year ago.

"Both Jon and Chris had preceded Mikey into the program," Kelly said, "and expected their younger brother would duplicate their success.

"He loved what he was doing," Kelly added. "His was truly a life well spent, albeit tragically cut short."

Mikey Lillis got his start skiing at Bristol Mountain Ski Club in Canandaigua. Details on memorial services are pending, though friends of the family are asking people to consider donating to the Bristol Freestyle Fund that directly contributes to the family financing their sons ski careers at:

"Please keep the Lillis family in your thoughts and prayers," read a statement on the Bristol Mountain website. "Bernie, Jamie, Jon and Chris lost a son and brother today. We honor a wonderful young man who always had a twinkle in his eye and who was a terrific athlete. Mikey was much loved and will be greatly missed by so many."



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