As the impending snowstorm descended on Vail, a group of local big mountain skiers headed out for bigger and burlier terrain. Big mountain skiers from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s program have had quite the season this year despite lower than average snowfall, and less than perfect training grounds. The athletes have been competing all season in events across the west against teams from Jackson Hole, Alta, and Taos, among others. Despite an obvious training disadvantage the team has been on fire. Two weeks ago competition points were calculated by the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association (IFSA) and a handful of the SSCV athletes qualified for the North American Championships in Revelstoke. Revelstoke, Canada is undoubtedly one of the premiere locations for iconic big mountain skiing with lines steep enough to put butterflies in just about anybody’s stomach. At the event, the SSCV team put down the hammer and showed the other competitors they were ready to ski on the steep terrain.
It was Kevin Nichols who stood out as the big winner of the competition. Nichols has had an impressive record this year ending in third place this season out of the entire IFSA circuit of 310 athletes. In Revelstoke Nichols had a strong performance and skied to a seventh overall in the male 12 to 14 class. Grifen Moller has been nipping at the bindings of Nichols all season and finished in seventh place in the overall IFSA standings. Impressively, all of the athletes from SSCV who participated in the championships event made it into the finals.
Other teams often poke fun at the big mountain athletes from Vail due to the flatter training grounds the athletes call home. However, based on the abilities of the kids, the training grounds have proven to be quite suitable. “The course at Revelstoke was long and steep with 1,500 feet of vertical terrain. We have prepared our athletes for competitions like this by constantly making sure they can handle all the variables,” said SSCV’s big mountain coach Garrett Scahill.
On the ladies side, Jordan Glendining finished out her season in ninth place for the 12 to 14 year old women out of a field of 82 athletes. At Revelstoke, Glendining skied to an eighth place finish.
When the athletes returned to a snow covered Vail just a few days ago, they realized that although the final event may be over there is still more skiing to be had.