Crushing the competition
Fifteen local athletes from the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) are in the midst of the USASA National Championships in Copper and are charging out of the starting blocks and stepping up to the podium.
The event runs April 3-9 and is the premier event for young skiers and snowboarders from around the country.
The week of competition opened on Sunday, April 4 with a handful of snowboard events including slalom, halfpipe and slopestyle.
Thomas Taaca started off with a ninth-place finish in the slalom and the Healey sisters, Nora and Colleen, each took third place in their age classes in the slopestyle.
Monday turned into the day of the Healeys as both Nora and Colleen dominated the field of competitors from start to finish in the boardercross.
“They were untouchable all day,” says CBMST assistant director Christian Robertson.
Nora won all three of her heats including the final without a glimpse of her competition to finish the National Boardercross champion in the 9-10 year old age group.
Colleen, who races in the 12-13 year old age group, set the tone early in her opening time trial setting the fastest time on the course of all female riders ages 10-22 years old.
She got a couple of scares from the competition in her final three heats but edged out the win to finish as the national boardercross champion in her age group.
“They competed both days and have been on the podium both days,” says Robertson.
On Tuesday, Taaca jumped into the halfpipe and finished in eighth place, a vast improvement from his 32nd-place finish last season at Nationals.
CBMST skier Aaron Blunck started his quest for the overall national title in the 13-15-year-old age class with a second-place finish, just two points shy of first, in the halfpipe on Monday.
While Blunck had been working on a 1260 in the halfpipe, it was far from flawless so he opted to stay with the tricks he could throw the smoothest.
“He threw a 10  but we kept him off the 12 ,” says CBMST head freeride coach Woody Lindenmeyr. “He just doesn’t have it yet.”
Blunck followed with a first-place finish in the slopestyle on Tuesday.
“He took slopestyle handily,” says Lindenmeyr. “He’s well on his way to that overall goal.”
Blunck closes Nationals with the skiercross event.
The early podium finishes now has the entire team ramped up for the rest of the events this week.
“It gets everyone stoked,” says Robertson. “It’s nice to start out on a good note. It’s a long week—we just need to keep the momentum.”
Meanwhile, junior big mountain skier for the CBMST Djemilah Birnie was on the West Coast competing in the Crystal Mountain Junior Freeskiing Championships. Birnie placed second at Crystal and took home the overall points series title for girls ages 12-14.