Home hill advantage plays out
by Will Dujardin, Head Freeride Coach, CBMST
Crested Butte Mountain Resort played host to an IFSA junior regional freeride competition on Saturday, February 2 under a mix of cloudy skies and flat light. The classic Colorado chalky hard pack snow that we all know and love so well here in the Elk Mountains was ripping and skiers ranging in age from 12 to 18 showcased their skills on the Hawks Nest venue off the North Face Lift.
The Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) junior athletes were ready to charge. Home field advantage certainly seemed to be a factor as local shredders took the top spots in almost all four divisions. Hawks Nest has seen decent snow this year and athletes used as many features as they could to build strong line scores and separate themselves from the field.
In the 12-14 girls division, CBMST athlete Zoe Hanna flashed a line through the rocks at the top of the venue with a couple of airs. It was good for third place out of the seven girls in the division. Her teammate, Aiya Schwartz, unfortunately went down on the first air after coming in hot from the start for sixth.
Over on the 12-14 boys’ side, the local kids took six of the top 10 spots out of 22 athletes. Tor Hudson staved off a CBMST takeover on the podium, going biggest in the bottom section of the venue looker’s left of Slipper, earning first place. CBMST athletes Cooper Wight finished .3 points behind Tor for second, Rowan Featherman greased the venue in third, while Marin Gardner and Eli Nolan finished in fourth and fifth, respectively, in their first competition at home in the 12-14 age category. Rowen Downum, also new to the 12-14 category, finished in 10th with CBMST teammates Owen Duffy, Navin Federico, and Ty Pulliam close behind in 11th, 12th, and 14th, respectively. A big shout out goes out to Ethan Kaufman finishing in 17th and Trey Smolen in 20th for competing in their first competitions ever.
Five CBMST athletes represented the local contingent in the 15-18 ski female category with four other girls from Telluride. Darby Hamilton was going full send but washed out her landing to finish eighth, while Chloe Schrammel put down a strong run for her first competition ever to finish in sixth. The top three girls put a sizeable 3.5-point gap between them and their closest competitors, showing their ability to arc big turns and hit sizeable features while making the feature-laden Hawks Nest look like a groomer. Avery Bernholtz took third with a 31.533 score while CBMST newcomer Austin Obourn edged her out by a tenth of a point for second. Ella Haverkampf, hot off her third place in Snowbird a couple of weeks ago, placed first with a 32-point effort.
Over in the 15-18 ski male division, 10 CBMST athletes threw down in a smaller-than-usual division of 18 athletes from around Colorado. Things just didn’t seem fair when CBMST athletes took the top eight positions, but knowledge of the venue and confidence on hard pack led to the local athletes standing out from the rest of the field. Kye Matlock and Jon Clay Patterson led the way with big 360s off of their second feature in the venue and large, clean airs at the bottom; Kye ended up taking first with a 35.533 and JC just .166 behind in second. Holden Bradford, who led the boys in Snowbird with a third place, had the biggest bottom air of the day after lacing turns down the venue for another third with 35.4. Seve Petersen and Marko Alling rounded out the top five with a 34.9 and a 33.933, respectively, in fourth and fifth.
The CBMST domination wasn’t finished though with Owen Berv .1 point behind Marko in 6th and Gus Bullock just another .1 behind Owen in seventh. Nate Ball put down one of his best competitive runs to date in his first year in the 15-18 division with a 33.4 for eighth place. Luke Shull had a strong run going for him but put a hip to the snow getting to his last feature for 14th while Trent Pulliam put the pedal down but couldn’t hold on to the high speed on Hawks Nest, finishing in 17th.
Local independent shredder Brooks Hudson didn’t want his younger brother Tor to have all the fun; he was putting down a potential top-three run with some big airs and lightning fluidity when he had to hold on to his control off a small 360 into the finish corral. He was docked some points in the process to finish in 13th.
Local athletes are looking forward to continuing the success through a busy February and March. The majority of the team is heading down to Taos, N.M. for regional and national events this week, then some are headed to Crystal, Wash. and Grand Targhee, Wyo. at the end of February. March will have the home national at Crested Butte Mountain Resort over March 8-10 then some regionals at Breckenridge and Vail with hopes to qualify for the North American IFSA Junior Freeride Championships in mid-April. A big thanks goes out to the CBMR events crew and professional Ski Patrol for continuing to put on quality events.