CBMST closes season at national championships

Regardless of results and outcome, the experience will benefit them in the years to come

By Than Acuff

Seventeen Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) athletes headed to the 2024 IFSA National Championships April 7-14 in Breckenridge to compete in snowboarding and skiing from ages u12 through u19.

“It was the biggest freeride competition ever in terms of registered athletes,” says CBMST director Eddy Cohn. “Bigger than the adult comps, bigger than international comps.”

While results were a mixed bag, there were some standouts as Cormac Anderson had the highest result among the seven u12 CBMST athletes finishing fifth in the boy’s snowboard division while Sierra Field also reached the podium taking fifth among u12 ski girls. Sidra Anderson, also on a snowboard, led the u15 crew with a second-place finish in her event and Niko Hudson had the top result among the older kids taking 12th place in the men’s u19 ski division.

In addition to the event podium, organizers announced overall season points leaders and Brooks Miller stepped onto the podium in fifth place among all u15 skiers.

“That’s a huge accomplishment for him for sure,” says CBMST coach Dylan Brown.

When athletes reached the venue for venue inspection and qualifier days, they were met with a harsh reality.

“It was, quite possibly, the worst snow I’ve ever seen at a freeride competition,” says Cohn. “Coral reef, bulletproof, hardpack awful.”

The plan from the coaches was pretty simple heading into the championships for all athletes from u12 up to the u19 group.

“The message was that you’ve been training and competing all season and at this point you know what you got so don’t hold anything back, we trust you” explains Brown. “We’ve been building that level of trust between the coaches and the kids all season long.”

The younger athletes, most of whom were competing in their first major event of their fledgling careers, took the conditions and pressure in stride. Not only that, but given the level of competition at the event, several even stepped out of their comfort zone to rise to the occasion.

“They handled all of it with a sense of maturity beyond their years and a sense of confidence in the work they’ve put in all season,” says Cohn. “Regardless of results and outcome, the experience will benefit them in the years to come. No number on the results sheet can speak to the value of the experience.”

Cohn speaks of Sidra as just one example of the overall level the younger skiers and snowboarders brought to the week of competing. Sidra finished qualifiers in second place and upon seeing the finals venue, the same venue for the u19 athletes, was noticeably nervous but overcame her nerves to finish in second.

“It’s a real deal venue and she had all of this trepidation,” says Cohn. “She just got quiet, got focused and rode her line like she wasn’t even nervous. She went in with her game face and executed at a high level.” 

The finals venue, known as Six Senses, had some spice to it for the u15 and u19 athletes.

“It’s got rocks, huge cliffs and little chutes,” says Brown.

U19 skier Liam Hadley was the lone CBMST athlete to make it through qualifiers and reach the finals matching up against some stout competition in just his first year competing in the age group. 

“The level right now is absurd,” says Brown. “Kids are hitting 50-foot cliffs, throwing threes off cliffs and then landing and arcing beautiful turns through challenging conditions. The level of skiing from these kids is absolutely insane.”

Testament to that fact is Hadley’s run. While dropping into a tight chute and then skiing out of it to hit arguably one of the biggest cliffs on the venue, he still ended up 23rd in the end.

“He had a great run,” says Brown. “The fields are just so stacked if you’re not doing something crazy, it’s not going to cut it.”

Cohn sums up the CBMST season and success in sending 17 athletes to the National Championships as a combination of several key elements.

“It speaks to the support from the community and parents, the commitment of the athletes and the quality of coaching they are getting,” says Cohn. “I can’t say enough good things about the coaching staff. From step one to the finish corral, the coaches did an incredible job.”

“The camaraderie of our team at competitions this year has been spectacular,” adds Brown. “Even when kids didn’t make it to the finals they would stick around and watch their teammates compete and just had so much love for everyone that came into the finish corral.”

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