“It was really cool to see CBMST athletes hold their own amongst the world’s best”
by Than Acuff
For the third year in a row, members of the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) freeride program headed over to Europe to compete in the Freeride Junior World Championships in Kappl, Austria and while the podium proved elusive, the athletes still carried the CBMST colors proudly across the pond.
Conditions at the venue were suspect as the competition date approached. The event offered a three-day window between January 28 and January 30 to hold the one-day, one-run competition with weather and avalanche conditions being the determining factor.
As the competition approached, conditions were less than favorable when the CBMST athletes arrived in Austria but the forecast looked favorable and then ultimately the approaching storm over-produced.
“We arrived at Kappl with spring-like conditions on the ground,” says coach Will Dujardin. “A lower snowpack and mild winter were worrying but a small amount of forecasted snow turned into a big amount of snow and one to two meters blanketed the Tyrolean Alps over two nights before the competition on Thursday.”
While fresh snow is always a good thing, the amount that fell posed a significant problem for event organizers, forcing them to move the competition from the usual venue due to avalanche hazard and to a smaller venue, but still rife with plenty of features for the skiers and snowboarders.
“It was a shorter but sweet venue with some avy fences along the top and a plethora of features off a ridge/cornice before the finish,” says Dujardin.
The athletes were then met with soft snow and bluebird skies on competition day Thursday, January 30 and it was time to get down to business.
Skier Kye Matlock had the top result among the three skiers there, hitting one of the biggest airs of all of the athletes near the top of the venue that launched him into a flatter landing than hoped. While his backseat landing did scrub some points, he made up for it on the lower section and was sitting on the podium midway through the competition. His peers took a page from Matlock’s work, though, and by the time all 30 male skiers were done, Matlock finished the day in seventh place overall.
Holden Bradford slipped into the venue further down the start list but struggled to find just the right mix and closed the day in 16th place.
Avery Bernholtz had some confusion at the top of the venue among the avy fences but made the most of her situation until a tough transition from powder to cat track bucked her, leaving her with an 11th-place finish.
CBMST snowboarder Dagan Schwartz had the top result among his teammates, coming in sixth place overall but falling shy of his goal to return to the podium after taking third place at the event last season.
“We had a mixed bag of results but, needless to say, it’s a super-impressive feat just to get invited to the event in itself,” says Dujardin. “It was really cool to see CBMST athletes hold their own amongst the world’s best.”
The athletes and coaches Dujardin and Josh Gallen are now back in the states and will join their teammates for the North American Freeride Tour through February and March as they look to close out their junior careers on a high note and inspire their younger teammates to continue the CBMST tradition at the world championships.
“Overall, the trip was a success and we hope to continue CBMST participation at the Freeride Junior World Championships,” says Dujardin. “We’ll see what this season has in store for the crew.”