99 local kids to defend Crested Butte this weekend
By Than Acuff
The Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) freeride program is already four comps into their season and will be in force this coming weekend as CBMR is hosting three days of junior freeride competitions on Hawks Nest Saturday through Monday, February 10–12.
The team kicked off the season with an IFSA Regional 2* event on January 21 in Steamboat as six CBMST athletes and one coach made the trip. While all the athletes were excited to continue their growth and progression as athletes and individuals, a mainstay of the CBMST program, Ella Block did that and then some. It’s Block’s second year with the program and first year competing in the u19 age class and she skied her way to a second place finish.
“She is fearless and her technique is catching up with her vision,” says CBMST head freeride coach Mark Robbins.
The next weekend, 21 CBMST athletes from the u19 age class all the way down to the u12 age group headed to Wolf Creek for another Regional 2* competition. This time another CBMST female athlete led the charge as Brie Polster skied to a third place result in the u19 age class, also in just her first year in the older age group.
“It’s a really big jump for athletes when they go into the u19 age class,” says Robbins.
Several of the younger CBMST athletes had top results at Wolf Creek as well.
Thirteen CBMST athletes then returned to the road for another regional competition in Telluride, February 2–3. While conditions were dubious upon arrival at the venue the day before, a storm rolled in to bless the site with fresh snow.
“It was super remarkable they even got the comp off,” says Robbins.
Once again, a female CBMST athlete had the top result in Telluride as Atalaya Hausdoerffer won the u19 age group while Rowen Downum took second place in the male u19 category.
“She won by two full points and the podium usually comes down to fractions of a point,” says Robbins. “Rowen has been with our program forever and our most senior athlete so it was a great comp for him.”
The younger CBMST athletes also posted top results once again with podiums in both the boys and girls u15 ski categories.
Meanwhile, some of the more seasoned CBMST athletes were in Grand Targhee February 2–4 for a 3* National event. This is where things ramp up as skiers and snowboarders qualify for National events based on results from the previous season and the CBMST had five such athletes in both the u15 and u19 groups with CBMST lead on-snow freeride coach Grant Spear leading the crew.
“The overall level of competition is proportionally higher at National events,” says Robbins.
“It’s a lot to walk into,” says Spear. “A lot of the athletes there are from Jackson, California and Canada and are veterans of National events.”
National events are two-day competitions with the field cut in half after day one and the athletes got a day of “spring skiing in January” before the event and then were faced with tough surface conditions for the first qualifier day.
“It was really tough conditions on a scary venue,” says Spear. “Steep, hardpacked chalk which, luckily, we’re used to. I told them ski smart, have fun and don’t let the pressure overtake the experience.”
The CBMST crew followed Spear’s advice and both u19 skiers Liam Hadley and Alyssa Lodovico made the cut on day one and then moved up the ranks with their efforts on day two as Hadley, in his first year as a u19, finished the weekend in sixth place.
“Just a phenomenal finish for Liam,” says Robbins.
Lodovico did the same as she closed out day one in 13th place but made her way up to sixth place after a stellar run on day two.
“They played the game well,” says Spear.
With four comps under the belts of the CBMST, they now prepare for three days of competition in Hawks Nest at CBMR with u15 and u19 athletes competing on Saturday and Sunday and u12 athletes taking on Hawks Nest on Monday. All told, 99 local kids will be out on the snow over the three days.
While results are all well and good, it’s certainly not the end all be all for the CBMST. For starters, Robbins is excited to see the growth of the program in several areas with 26 snowboarders in the program and an uptick in girls and young women both as athletes and coaches.
“Those have been great developments to see over the past couple of years,” says Robbins.
“The last few years have been a rebuilding time and now we’re starting to see the rewards,” adds Spear. “It’s super exciting where the kids are now.”
Furthermore, they remain focused on more than just results for their skiers and snowboarders.
“As a team we try to be more process oriented over results,” says Robbins. “Learning skills that will help them not just on snow, but in life.”