Hailey Loeffler takes junior freeskiing title in Snowbird, Utah

Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team represents

Two skiers from the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) reached the podium at the Snowbird Junior Freeskiing Nationals in Utah with Hailey Loeffler stepping up to the top spot.



It’s been a strong season for the young crew of big mountain skiers with head coach Woody Lindenmeyr focusing their attention on ski specifics.
“Everybody’s been skiing really well,” says Lindenmeyr. “They’ve really come a long way with their technique.”
As the team prepared for the trip to Utah, Lindenmeyr offered some parting words of advice.
“My final words were to have stand-up runs on your first runs and show them your technique,” says Lindenmeyr. “Of course, open it up and give it a little harder in the finals.”
CBMST coaches Louise Lintehlac and Hans vonBreisen carried that mantra as they took eight of their athletes to compete in the prestigious event that attracted nearly 100 of the top junior skiers in the nation.
“The tricky thing with the qualifier is you don’t want them to go too big, fall and get disqualified but you don’t want them to get cut,” says Lintehlac.
Faced with foggy conditions the athletes battled poor visibility on the qualifier day, held on Silver Fox directly under the Snowbird tram.
Skiers Hilari Spencer and Brad Coffey each stumbled on their qualifying run as Coffey clipped a shrub during a high-speed straight-line and Spencer tested the limits with a technical line choice but fell.
“It was good to see Brad try that line,” says Lintehlac. “Hilari always picks very technical lines and she’s not afraid to put herself out on a limb. I’m really happy she went for it.”
David Bright fell prey to the flat light on the qualifier day as well as he lost sight of his landing on a jump and hip-checked.
Meanwhile Brittany and Natalie Barefield, Matt Evans, Djemilah Birnie and Loeffler stayed on their feet and showed some style in their runs, making the cut for the finals.
“I was very happy with the first day,” says Lintehlac. “They were all very confident and put together at the start, which is rare for juniors.”
The competition then moved to the premier venue of North Baldy, offering competitors a wide selection of line choices and airs of varying heights.
Evans opted to go for it on his final run, throwing a 360 off a cliff, and got around but the punchy landing threw him over the bars.
Birnie had a top-choice line in mind but soon found herself going a little bigger than expected off a cliff and also fell victim to the punchy snow.
“About 30 kids punched through and went over the bars,” says Lintehlac. “I’m proud of her for trying a bigger air.”
Brittany put together one of the best runs of the day in her age class 12-14-year-olds to move from sixth place up to third and take the her step onto the podium.
“Brittany really impressed me on that day,” says Lintehlac. “She’s young but she’s a very strong skier.”
Natalie made the most of her finals appearance in the 15-17-year-old age group. Sitting in seventh place after day one, Brittany put together the highest scoring run of the day among her peers to move into fourth place less than one point shy of the third-place spot.
And then there’s Loeffler, red tutu and all. She came into the finals in fourth place and Lintehlac shared some competition wisdom with her athlete.
“We made a conscious decision together,” says Lintehlac. “I said, ‘If you want to win this, you have to ski a more technical line. We need to show them what you’re good at.’”
Loeffler followed the strategy flawlessly, maintaining her speed and fluidity through one of the more technical lines in the venue.
She finished her run with high-speed turns through an area known as the boneyard, flashing a style that reminded Lintehlac of a current big mountain freeskier winning on the adult circuit.
“She kind of skied a la Dylan Crossman,” says Lintehlac, “making GS turns through a very difficult line.”
The effort catapulted her from fourth into first place for the junior Nationals title. In addition, Loeffler was awarded the Captain Jack Carey Award for the competitor possessing the best attitude of the contest.
“I’m very happy with how it all turned out,” says Lintehlac.
“It’s always nice to post some results after working so hard,” adds Lindenmeyr.

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