Holden Bradford takes Flyin’ Ryan Hawks Award
by Will Dujardin, Head Freeride Coach and westelkproject.com
The competitive junior freeride season wrapped up in Kicking Horse, British Columbia last week at the IFSA North American Junior Freeride Championships with Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) skiers Kye Matlock and Avery Bernholtz stepping up to the top spots on the podium.
Ten percent of the overall field is invited to crown the finals’ winners and overall champions. After a hard-fought season earning points to get invited, the CBMST sent 11 athletes up to the event, represented by Jon Clay Patterson, Austin Obourn, Bernholtz, Matlock, Marko Alling, Owen Berv, Holden Bradford, Dagan Schwartz, Gus Bullock, Ella Haverkampf, and Rowan Featherman. Coaches Will Dujardin, Grant Spear, Matt Evans and Josh Gallen joined the athletes and a whole troop of parents on the journey north to the Canadian Rockies.
Kicking Horse has become a hotbed for freeride in recent years with the Freeride World Tour stop and the famous Wrangle the Chute four-star qualifier event. While there were certainly spring conditions around the mountain and some graybird weather coming in and out, the north-facing venues held snow really well throughout the comp.
Rowan Featherman opened up the CBMST action with a fast run on Day One, but the light might have been the flattest of the week when he was going and he washed out on his landing, not making the finals but finishing 43rd overall on the season.
In the older athletes’ divisions the next day, Austin Obourn kicked things off with a fast and fluid run down the venue despite a nagging ankle injury. The ankle kept her off some features and she was unable to make the cut among the top 25 in the U.S.A. and Canada, but finished 14th overall on the season in 15-18 ski female. Ella Haverkampf and Avery Bernholtz were hungry and stomped big lines to put themselves in fourth and second, respectively, going into finals.
Over on the male side, Jon Clay Patterson absolutely lit up the venue with one of the biggest airs mid-venue and a sweet 3 up top to finish in first place of the day out of the 53 best junior male skiers in North America. Kye Matlock put down a solid run with a 3 for 12th, 2.5 points behind JC. Marko Alling laced a fast run to finish in 20th on the day and Owen Berv linked together some good features to sneak into the finals in 26th. Gus Bullock put down a strong run with a 3 but just missed the cut amidst the stiff competition, finishing in 32nd at the event and 40th overall on the year. Unfortunately, Holden Bradford crashed on his top air but brought the spirit up among the whole event, doing almost 50 jump turns, a couple worm turns, and a twister-twister-spread at the bottom.
Dagan Schwartz put down a creative run down the looker’s left of the venue that put him into second going into the finals out of 10 15-18 snowboard male athletes. He took that momentum into the finals on Whitewall, putting down the highest-scoring line but having his control and technique docked a little on his run out, finishing in third place at the event and therefore third overall on an impressive season.
The Whitewall venue hadn’t been used in competition before due to weather and light, but played host to an awesome final for these ripping junior athletes. Ella Haverkampf was in the midst of a great run but missed a transition on her second to last air, splatting for 11th, but taking 10th overall on her first season in 15-18 female ski. Avery Bernholtz put down the fastest run of the day straightlining a chute; she scored the second highest on the day, but in cumulative scoring sometimes 2+2=1 and Avery took home first place at the event, CBMST’s first NORAMs title in 15-18 female ski, catapulting her to second place overall on the year.
Not to be left out of taking a title home, the boys opened up some sweet lines down Whitewall. Owen Berv went large on the skier’s left of the venue but was a little too forward, punch fronting his landing, finishing in 23rd at the event and 31st on the season. Marko Alling put together a good run, taking a little less juice into the same air as Owen and landing it, finishing in 16th at the event and 21st on the season. Jon Clay Patterson was sitting in first going into finals, put down a really smooth run with a huge 3 at the bottom, finishing in third at the event and seventh on the season, capping off a junior career consisting of one NORAMs title and overall championship two years ago and countless podiums and victories.
But the day belonged to Kye Matlock. He was sitting in 12th going into the finals and absolutely greased the most creative line of the day with two big 3s. Kye finished in first for the event, CBMST’s second NORAMs title in 15-18 ski male in three years, and moved up to second overall for the season.
However, the most prestigious award at the event may be the Flyin’ Ryan Hawks award. It is given to the athlete who best represents what freeride is all about, being able to shred, support their teammates and fellow competitors and carry the spirit of Ryan Hawks, an athlete who unfortunately passed at a Freeride World Tour event in Kirkwood in 2011.
Holden Bradford had been lighting up the season with multiple podiums and the victory at Grand Targhee; after his crash at the top of the venue on Day One, he showed he is here for fun with his aforementioned hop turns and such. Despite crashing and being bumped down in the overall rankings to 15th after the event, the judges and event organizers decided to give Holden the Flyin’ Ryan Hawks Award for his infectious attitude and passion for the sport.