“The most noteworthy thing is the depth of talent”
by Than Acuff
The IFSA junior freeride series came to Crested Butte Mountain Resort Friday through Sunday, February 17-19 and the local athletes, both Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) and independent, made numerous trips to the podium across several classes of both skiers and snowboarders.
The three-day event opened with the u12 skiers and snowboarders in Hawk’s Nest and thanks to recent snow and an overall strong winter, the athletes took full advantage of the venue as they gained additional competition experience with the freeride experience.
“The features only get better and safer and they had lots of options,” says CBMST head coach Mark Robbins. “The top kids were fast and hitting airs and showing comfort with the terrain and having fun with it.”
The local athletes certainly dominated the day both in numbers and results as 34 kids competed with eight stepping onto the podium. That said, Robbins liked what he saw overall as just one crashed at the Crested Butte event that first day.
“Seeing that consistency is really awesome,” says Robbins.
The IFSA organizers and CBMR then teamed up to provide unchartered territory in a competition for the 12-14-year-olds and the 15-18-year-olds over the next two days. For the first time in the history of junior freeride events, the kids were given Spellbound Bowl as the choice of venue.
“It’s a great venue and has all of the elements to allow athletes the ability to put together a great run,” says Robbins. “Building their line score is an important part of the judging and Spellbound allows them to hit big airs up top and show more open technique and then get into more technical terrain in the lower part of the venue finding features that require managing your speed in tight areas.”
The kids made the most of it across the board with some showing their speed and penchant for air, while others proved their ilk in technical terrain with the top results going to the ones that mixed both.
“The most noteworthy thing is the depth of talent,” says Robbins. “Now there’s as many as five to 10 kids laying down pretty impeccable runs. The judges have a much harder job.”
Of the 14 local skiers and snowboarders that competed on Saturday, nine reached the podium in both age groups and both disciplines as Alyssa Lodovico took second in the 15-18-year-old female ski division and Tegan Turner second place in the 15-18-year-old female snowboard division. Meanwhile, the young guns continued their strong seasons as Brooks Miller won his ski class with Liam Hadley and Beckett Kidd joining him on the podium and Devun Skinner winning his snowboard class with Temple Robertson and Owen Pugh joining him in the top five. Ayla Jane Donaldson was the lone local girl to finish top five in her skier class.
The local kids closed out the event on Sunday with another slew of podiums. Tor Hudson placed fourth among the 15-18-year-old skiers with Brie Polster winning her skier age group joined by Ella Block in third place and Isaac Jennings winning his skier age group as Tor Jennison and Jakob Klemme joined him on the podium.
“They’re all showing such great progress this year taking advantage of the great conditions on our mountain,” says Robbins. “They’re showing comfort in the terrain they’re in and showing great technique.”
The CBMST currently has four athletes with coach Grant Spear competing at a regional and national event at Crystal Mountain in Washington State and then Robbins and other CBMST coaches will take 11 CBMST athletes to a 3* national event at Snowbird the first week of March.