With a brilliant, exciting, and blazing fast run at the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association (IFSA) Junior North American Big Mountain championships at Grand Targhee last weekend Ski & Snowboard Club Vail Big Mountain athlete Jack Nichols of Edwards was able to do what no other skier from the Vail Valley has ever done, a podium finish among the best Big Mountain freeskiers in North America.  Jack finished the competition in second place based on his combined score for two runs.  In Friday’s qualifying round Jack found himself in sixth place in a field of 62, of which only half moved on to the finals on Saturday.  Finals took place on the same run with the scores for the competition being cumulative. Competitors are judged by 3 judges using 5 criteria:  1) Line Score; 2) Control; 3) Technique; 4) Fluidity (no pauses); and 5) Style and Energy.

Saturday’s finals were Jack’s last competition before heading off to Montana State University next year.  Jack was the sixth to last competitor to drop into ” Reliable”, a steep cliffed out face of 40-50 degrees with mandatory drop in air!  He flew off his top air, a 30 foot cliff, and a route that only Jack’s brother Kevin and his teammate Finn Anderson dared to take, and he proceeded to astonish the crowd with his speed, balance, and cat-like reflexes as he crossed into the finish coral. Jack’s second place at this final event of the season bumped him up to fourth place in the year end overall standings!

SSCV’s Austin Obourn of Edwards, in her first year of Big Mountain competition, was able to accomplish another first for the Vail Valley and Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.   Austin finished first in the 12-14 year-old girl category besting every girl in North America.   “A strong racing background which has helped to make her a great technical skier was instrumental in her consistent performance this year,” said Head Big Mountain Coach Nick Whittemore.

Also having a remarkable year for SSCV’s Big Mountain team was Vail local Finn Anderson. Finn finished fourth overall in the boys 12-14 year-old category.  Finn was on the podium in every event he entered this year leading up to the National Championships.

SSCV qualified the following eight athletes to the Championships in Grand Targhee last weekend, of whom seven competed.

  • 12-14 Girls-Austin Obourn and Alexandra Carey
  • 12-14 Boys:  Finn Anderson, Max Pierce, George Savin and Cade Cyphers
  • 15-18 Boys: Jack Nichols, Kevin Nichols

Of the seven who competed in the Championships, five qualified for finals. “I am incredibly impressed by the commitment these Big Mountain competitors have shown all season long.  Their training and ability has paid off this season to qualify them for this national level championship.   After an entire season of competing and training we saw a vast improvement not only in the difficulty of the line they were able to execute in their runs, but also the level at which they are all competing,” stated Whittemore.