Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s Big Mountain Team finally got a chance to show their stuff this past weekend after a lean snow season caused delays on the Junior Freeskiing Tour Schedule. Eleven athletes from the team traveled to Crystal Mountain, Washington, to compete in the four-day event, the first on the national tour after two other venues were forced to reschedule for lack of snow. Even then, the athletes had to cool their heels at the top of the venue as dense fog and snow suspended the event repeatedly during the qualifier. Event organizers were challenged to get in over 130 competitors in two age divisions on Sunday, modifying with deep cuts for finals.
SSCV’s Christian Nichols won the 15-18 year old division. After a qualifying run on the Northway venue, Nichols was sitting in 5th. The field of sixty from the US and Canada was cut to 15 athletes for finals. Nichols put down a high speed, fluid run with great technical skiing to win the event. This was an especially gratifying achievement for Nichols after a difficult fall caused significant injuries during a training run in 2009. He was not able to finish the competition that year.
“The skiing was at such a high level, the judges were left speechless. The lines that the boys had to ski were difficult and had to be flawless to stand out. Both of Christian’s runs were fast, precise, mistake-free and included big air,” stated Garrett Scahill, SSCV big mountain coach.
Sixteen year-old Aidan Stege skied two spectacular runs to place 12th for his first competition in the older division.
Anna Suszynski took 7th for the 15-18 year-old girls while Kevin Nichols finished in 12th place for the 12-14 year-old boys.
“The 12-14 year-old guys skied outstandingly well and smart considering the variable hard-pack snow conditions today on Northway,” said event commentator, Max Kuszaj. “They approached the venue wisely, showing they know how to complete at a world-class level due to their decisions and polished skiing technique. The juniors truly are the future of big mountain freeskiing.”
Before the Crystal event, some athletes from SSCV Big Mountain Team were able to compete in a Junior Freeskiing Tour regional event at Snowbird, Utah. The regional events were added to the National Series this season to help meet demand for the growing sport.
On February 26th, with a field dominated by local, Alta/Snowbird big mountain athletes, SSCV’s Christian, Jack & Kevin Nichols posted three top ten finishes on Snowbird’s Silver Fox venue.
Christian Nichols took 3rd for the 15-18 year old boys while 15-year old Jack Nichols finished tenth with a high scoring line. Thirteen year-old Kevin Nichols took 4th for the 12-14 year old boys division.
SSCV’s Big Mountain Team heads to Squaw Valley, California March 8-11.