“They’ve been charging it”
The Crested Butte Academy Big Mountain team littered the podium with athletes in the junior divisions of the 2008 Canadian Open Freeskiing Championships on Saturday and Sunday, January 12-13.
A solid cycle of snow in December and January allowed team riders to fully exploit the offerings of Crested Butte Mountain Resort in preparation for the upcoming season.
“It’s been going awesome due to great early season snow conditions,” says team director Woody Lindenmeyr. “They’ve been charging it. It’s a really dynamic bunch.”
The coaches worked with their athletes on putting together top-to-bottom runs, skiing the fine line between conservative and chaotic that typically scores high in competitions.
“We’ve worked on technique, fluidity and choosing lines that will challenge them,” says coach Carrie Jo Chernoff.
The weeks of solid training paid off as three of the four Academy athletes reached the podium at their first competition of the season.
Chernoff and the team were met with great snow conditions but brutal fog at the competition held at Red Mountain in Rossland, British Columbia.
“There was a bunch of new snow but the visibility was horrible,” says Chernoff. “It was just a milk bowl.”
Academy sophomore Hailey Loeffler had a stand-out performance in her first competition ever, taking second place in the girls division ages 12-15.
Junior Francesca Pavillard-Cain cut her teeth on freeskiing competitions here in Crested Butte and continues to improve with every season.
She opened her 2008 season with a third-place finish at the Canadian event; senior Brittani Ballantyne joined Pavillard-Cain one step up on the podium with a second place result.
The lone male Academy competitor, sophomore Luke Cutler, was thrown into a huge field of 40 skiers and came out of the fog with a 17th-place finish.
He flirted with a better finish on his second run under clear skies, but the fog rolled in again midway through the pack. As a result, the initial runs were erased as everyone was forced to ski under the same visibility conditions.
Cutler crashed at the top of his re-run but managed to close his line with smooth skiing and stay in the top 20.
“He did a really good job of dealing with it and shaking it off,” says Chernoff.
The team is back on its home area now and will continue to work out with several events coming up in February.
“We’re going to build off these results and shoot for the moon,” says Lindenmeyr. “Keep consistently skiing the steeps fast and hard and staying healthy.”
Pavillard-Cain will represent the Academy at the Telluride Freeskiing Open on February 7-10 and then the team will defend its home turf at the 17th Annual US Extreme Freeskiing Championships February 19-23 on Crested Butte Mountain.