VAIL, Colo. – Big Mountain skiers and snowboarders in the International Freeskiers and Snowboard Association U12 age division took to Vail Mountain’s Lovers Leap course this weekend to show off some of the wide range of skills they possess. Given the whole open face of the course to pick a line, these athletes were scored on the difficulty of their line choice, and assessed in 4 different categories based on how they skied that line. Judges looked specifically at the riders’ control, technique, fluidity, and style and energy, then tallied those scores up to one final cumulative score. When asked about the key to doing well in a competition like this, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s Head Big Mountain Coach, Matt Luczkow noted that, “We want our athletes to really find a flow. We try to teach them to be reactive, to use their instincts when out there on the course.”
And when all was said and done, SSCV had some standout performances among the large group of competitors.
In the male snowboarding category, SSCV’s Kaleb Gibbs and Gus Wakat secured 1st and 4th respectively with challenging lines and good technique. In the U12 female skier division, Tyler Minnick beat out 9 other girls in her age group to score a 5th place finish.
The competition was steep for the male skiers of the day, with 36 athletes all taking to the course in the hopes of grabbing one of the coveted spots on top of the podium. SSCV’s Colby Saunders took a difficult line and finished the day in 6th place, just 1.7 points off of the leader’s score. Teammate Brayden Head finished 1.2 points behind Saunders in 11th place.
At the same time, 650 miles away in Big Sky, Montana another Big Mountain competition was coming to a close. The Big Sky IFSA Junior Nationals saw skiers and snowboarders aged 12 and above go head to head on some big technical terrain. Several SSCV skiers performed very well in their age divisions. Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy 9th grader, Lindsey Labaugh, skied with consistent control and style, securing the highest scores of the 12-14 age group on both of her runs and ending the day with a gold medal around her neck. Kate Pitkin finished in 4th place, just one-tenth of a point from joining teammate Labaugh on the podium.
In the female skier 15-18 year-old age group, SSCV’s Caroline Ungar also put on an innovative display between both of her runs that proved good enough to secure her a spot guarding the podium in 4th place.
“It was a cool event to be a part of,” said Luczkow. “Big Sky has some difficult terrain that definitely pushed some kids out of their comfort zone, but they skied strong and safely.”