“It gives us more time on our home resort which is a great thing”
[ by Than Acuff ]
There’s no question kids are looking for something to do as we all negotiate our way through the pandemic and the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) has answered the call once again.
Numbers continue to grow in all programs from the junior devo program up through both the competition freeride and ski racing programs with participation at an all time high heading into this winter.
“We have more kids and more coaches this year,” says CBMST supervisor and head freeride coach Will Dujardin.
Dujardin credits the entry-level junior devo program as creating the pipeline to feed the comp programs in freeride, snowboarding and alpine racing.
“There are so many young kids coming up and the junior devo program is still about giving kids the foundation of technique and making sure kids are having fun learning,” says Dujardin. “Year after year the junior devo program proves its worth.”
CBMST lead race coach Katie Davidson agrees that devo is just that, development.
“When they’re that young, you don’t want them specific,” says Davidson. “You want to give them the tools to then do whatever they want whether it’s freeride or race. You want to have some variety.”
Last season, just as the freeride comp program was starting to surge with both CBMST athletes and coaches posting top results in competitions, they had the snow pulled out from under them as COVID-19 hit.
“Unfortunately we were cut off right as our athletes were hitting their stride,” says Dujardin.
This year, despite losing a couple of seasoned veteran coaches, Dujardin has a solid staff on hand to ensure quality direction for the freeride athletes.
“I have tons of rad and experienced staff,” says Dujardin. “I’m really stoked on where our comp staffing is. The athletes are going to learn a lot from this staff.”
CBMST has seen a big surge in numbers among snowboarders. Over the past couple of years the comp snowboard program consisted primarily of Dagan Schwartz. This year they have 11 kids in the comp program helping to build camaraderie.
“We now have more kids all around the same age feeding off of each other,” says Dujardin. “It’s cool to have a block of kids like that and I’m pretty happy with how the program has developed the past couple of years.”
The skiing program is as strong as ever as well and while both skiers and snowboarders all getting on snow now as part of the CBMST program, questions remain about when they can put their training to the test with the competition circuit still in flux.
“There’s efforts to get competitions at the regional level but it’s dependent on local health orders,” says Dujardin. “We have some scheduled in January but we don’t know what it’s going to look like until we get closer.”
Despite the potential for a limited competition season, Dujardin maintains there is a silver lining. Oftentimes, some of the top tier athletes have as many as eight competitions in a season, which keep them on the road and away from home a lot and can be expensive for families.
“Having less competitions can be a good thing in a certain way,” says Dujardin. “It gives us more time on our home resort which is a great thing. We also get to reset how we balance competition and training. We still hope for the opportunity to compete but we’re also stoked for the athletes to build relationships with the community and with the staff.”