By Will Dujardin / westelkproject.com
After a busy competition season, the IFSA Junior North American Freeride Championships went down at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah last week with u12, 12-14, and 15-18-year-old divisions represented in skiing and snowboarding. Between u12 athletes and the comp team, 16 athletes represented the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) and the local independent shredder brothers, Brooks and Tor Hudson, were also in attendance, all battling for the overall titles for the season.
The u12 division kicked the action off on Wednesday under sunny skies on the reliable Silver Fox Venue. Aiya Schwartz represented the CBMST on the girl’s side; she put down a solid run to qualify in 6th. Marin Gardner led the way for the boys, tying for sixth while Sam Anderson squeaked in the cut at 17th. Unfortunately Fraser Birnie went down on his last air, a sizeable hit off the “meatball” feature, while the young Beckett Dickson fell victim to a snow snake after charging out the gate.
The next day, a snowstorm had started that was to drop around 30 inches on the venue over the next two days. While it was supposed to also serve as Day One for the 12-14 age divisions as well as u12 finals, only the u12 division was able to run between intermittent visibility. That meant whiteout pow and split judging for the young shredders. Aiya Schwartz was able to move up to fourth place with a smooth run and Sam Anderson kept it on his feet with a nice “meatball” air to move into 12th overall. Marin Gardner kept his good skiing going with a nice straight-line to cap off his run and finish in seventh place out of 32 of the best u12 freeriders in North America.
The snow kept pounding as the action kicked off for the 12-14 skiers and snowboarders the next day. With visibility coming in and out, the judges had to split again as the athletes got prime conditions on the venue. Tor Hudson put down an impressive run capped off with a large air in the “Mustachio” section of Silver Fox good enough for 16th.
His older brother Brooks might have won the day with his powerful skiing if not for a little backslap on his last air, slotting him into sixth place. CBMST’s Nate Ball kept up his consistent skiing with the popular big “field goal” air and earned 12th on the day out of 55. Unfortunately, his teammate Rowan Featherman went down going for a large finishing move pioneered by CBMST alum Oz Scott years ago.
On the female side, Ella Haverkampf repeated her run that won her the Snowbird National event a few weeks prior. She went a little bigger and despite a little bobble on the landing was able to take third place on the day out of 21.
The skies parted and bluebird Silver Fox powder was on the docket for Day One of the 15-18 skiers and snowboarders on Saturday. Dagan Schwartz opened up the action with a technical run that put him in eighth on the day for 15-18 Men Snowboarding, while Avery Bernholtz was hungry and bit off a little more than she could chew, going down on a big air over “Mustachio” in the 15-18 Ski Women category.
The 15-18 Ski men on the CBMST delivered a mixed bag of results as the athletes navigated rehashed pow later in the day. Unfortunately, the CBMST frontrunner, Jon Clay Patterson, went down overshooting his landing on his last feature after absolutely annihilating the Silver Fox venue with a big 3 in the “mini AK” zone and a massive send off of “Standard Air.” Holden Bradford was the other CBMST athlete to go down when he was snow-snaked railing a high-speed turn. Turner Petersen found himself in 20th after nailing a big 3 off of Standard air while Kye Matlock put himself in 15th after a high-speed run down Silver Fox. Marko Alling and Carson Hildebrandt made greasy runs down North Chute pay off finding themselves in 13th and ninth, respectively.
Despite all the new snow, sun and freezing temperatures locked up the famed North Baldy venue to the point of unsafe conditions on the Finals day, Sunday. Event organizers had to make the painful decision to cancel the day and the run 1 results stood for the 12-14 and 15-18 divisions. Despite the anticlimactic finish, the results determined the hard-fought overall rankings at the end of the season. Ella Haverkampf’s third place in the event pushed her up to fourth place on the season in 12-14 Ski Female. In the 12-14 Ski Male division Brooks Hudson finished in fourth on the season after his sixth place, Tor Hudson in 31st, Rowan Featherman in 32nd, Nate Ball in 42nd, and Gus Bullock in 58th on the year out of 320 athletes. Avery Bernholtz’ crash dropped her down to 11th overall in her first year in 15-18 Ski Women out of 110 athletes, while Dagan Schwartz moved into sixth place on the season, a result that probably qualified him for the Freeride Junior World Championships in Austria next season. Carson Hildebrandt’s aforementioned ninth-place capped off an impressive first season in 15-18 Ski Men that landed him in second overall on the season with Jon Clay Patterson close by in seventh. Both will likely get the invite to the FJWC event next year. Marko Alling and Turner Petersen showed consistent skiing all season to get 18th and 21st, respectively, while Kye Matlock and Holden Bradford were able to earn 34th and 59th, respectively, out of a total of 307 athletes.
This season marked another year of exceptional growth for the CBMST Freeride team with all 12 full-time athletes qualifying for NORAMS at Snowbird and over a total of 35 athletes with IFSA starts on the season. With athletes coming through the Jr. Devo and Devo ranks, stay on the lookout for more podium finishes next year. See you at dry-land training in the fall.