Local junior freeride skiers take on Snowbird’s powdery steeps

Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team represent

Nine free skiers from the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) traveled to Snowbird, Utah to compete in the first annual I.F.S.A. Junior Freeskiing Nationals Sunday through Tuesday, March 8-10. The Crested Butte athletes were there to participate among the field of approximately 70 junior athletes from all over the West and beyond.


The team had the chance to familiarize themselves with the resort two days prior to the competition, scoping possible venues, lines and just enjoying the very different ski area. It was an incredible experience for the team members to be skiing a new resort with a tram and such different terrain.
“It was all amazing skiing,” says Klara Wohlers, a telemarker on the team.
“I loved skiing in Snowbird,” says Natalie Barefield, “It is so different from Crested Butte, and it was awesome! I can’t wait to get out and ski in another wonderful place!”
“The snow was sick!” exclaims Nolan Blunck.
On Monday, March 9 the team loaded the 7:30 a.m. tram and got off at the top to white-out conditions in the dark to find dust on crust in the venue of “Great Scott” off the famed cirque.
Needless to say, these conditions got the best of the Crested Butte athletes, taking out two athletes due to falls on that first run. The competition was postponed. Then it was postponed some more. Then it was finally cancelled for the day and the venue completely changed for the next day. The afternoon was spent “inspecting” but the skiing was knee-deep and deeper and offered up some great powder skiing.
Tuesday, March 10 began with clearing skies, 30 inches of snow, road closures and a 45-minute tramline. After one last inspection run on “Tower 3,” the comp was under  way in perfect conditions.
The CBMST ladies skied terrific, with Klara Wohlers taking third place in the 12-14 age group category. Djemilah Birnie competed in the same category and skied incredibly, but the judges inexcusably lost her scorecards and she was marked a DNS (did not start) and was held back from the second run, instead of being deemed the appropriate second place finisher!
In the ladies 15-17 category Mackenzie Mailly just about tromped the entire field on her tele gear, winding up in second place. Hillari Spencer finished in seventh and an injured Hailey Loeffler rounded out in ninth.
Our three boys skied awesomely as well. Nolan Blunck and Scott Selinski skied very smooth and controlled to take the 11th and 12th place spots and Matt Evans secured 18th place, all in the 12-14 category.
Except for Mackenzie and Hailey, the athletes were either in their first or second big mountain competition ever.
“After the first hit all the butterflies go away and it turns into excitement,” says Djemilah Birnie of her first competition.
“The competition was fantastic. An experience I will never forget,” says Hillari Spencer.
“I have been to a lot of other kinds of ski comps and this one was the best,” adds Matt Evans.
More impressive than the great results and skiing was the attitude and behavior of the whole team. Natalie Barefield was injured on the third day, but was determined to make it to the venue to cheer on her teammates, despite having to access the arena via a patrol ride. Djemilah held her head high in the face of the judges’ mistake losing her scoring cards. Finally, the Snowbird tram has never witnessed such gleeful singing! This was truly a trip to remember.

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