Dylan Alagna steps on top
by Mark Robbins, CBMST coach
The Crested Butte Mountain Sports Telemark team found itself again on the podium at the sixth annual Grand Targhee Big Mountain Telemark Comp this past March 4-6. Despite Crested Butte rumors that telemark is dying, the junior division grows every year—this was the biggest year yet, with 47 junior competitors mostly hailing from competitive coaching programs similar to CBMST. Programs traveled from Telluride, Steamboat, Aspen, Carbondale, Tahoe and Crested Butte. The adult field also grew this year, with 35 men and 11 women competing.
With inclement weather anticipated for finals day the decision was made to fit in two runs on day one, with the plan to make a deep cut and attempt to fit in just one super-final run on Sunday. With that in mind, the team strategized to lay down a solid but safe first run, then either repeat for run two or ramp it up depending on how the rest of the field looked.
The plan worked well—first-run scores put Dane Defrates in first, Dylan Alagna in second, and Luke Shull in fourth out of 18 11-to-14-year-old male competitors. With confidence high, Dane and Dylan laid down even higher scoring runs in the afternoon, while the excitement got the better of Luke who didn’t quite find the transition on his bottom air and tumbled.
Just four athletes were invited to the Sunday super-final fun—Dane in first, Dylan in second, and two athletes from Aspen Valley Ski Club in third and fourth. Even with his fall, Luke finished the comp in an impressive sixth place.
Conrad Truettner, who has found himself on the podium more than once at Grand Targhee, graduated to the big league this year and competed as an adult with 34 other fully grown men with (binding) attachment issues. Knowing the cut to the super-finals would be deep, Conrad chose an aggressive line. Sticking a solid top air, he unfortunately got hung up entering a straight-line in the middle of the venue and tumbled. Knowing this eliminated his chances for making the cut, his goal for run two was to have redemption on his line. He nailed his second run, finding the straight-line entrance and stomping a tricky bottom air. He ended the day in 20th place, while the top 13 were invited to the super-finals.
CBMST alums Mackenzie Mailly and Klara Wohlers competed in the women’s division. Mackenzie has been spoiled by perfect Japan powder all winter and struggled with punchy conditions. Taking aggressive airs to tele rolls both runs, she ended day one in sixth place. Klara, making an ecstatic and healthy return to competition after successfully battling a serious illness for the past few years, laid down two solid runs to end the day in fifth place. The top three were invited to the super-finals.
With Dylan gunning for his buddy Dane’s number one spot, the two top boys chose aggressive lines despite a healthy lead over the Aspen crew. The fourth-place boy fell while the third-place boy laid down a solid run with a big bottom air, keeping the pressure on the Crested Butte crew. Dylan, a few points back but within striking distance, nailed his run, including stomping a backflip at the bottom of the venue. With the pressure on from his friend to defend his first-place finish from last year, Dane charged his run, stomping a more aggressive middle air. Unfortunately he got hung up in the exit apron, and fell again floating out a 360 on the bottom air. It was still good for a third-place finish, while Dylan left no doubt that he had clinched first—his first podium finish.
The telemark crew joins the alpine side of CBMST next week for the IFSA Breckenridge GoPro Challenge. As with all events the binding-challenged compete alongside the alpine skiers. Dane has one podium finish and Conrad has a handful of top-ten finishes at these events, so the team will be looking to keep fighting the good fight against the irrelevance of their sport. The team will be foregoing the Breckenridge event next year in order to compete at the more renowned Al Johnson Memorial Uphill Downhill race.