SSCV Freeski’s Sam Heller is looking solid to qualify for North American Championships after a win in the 12-14 age group at the IFSA national big mountain competition in Grand Targhee last week.

“Really, this was like his first-ever national event,” said SSCV’s Head Big Mountain Coach Justin Holder. “This was the first national event we went to this season. With a lot of the events having been cancelled due to weather this season, it puts a lot more pressure on the events we do have.”

Heller was coming off a fifth-place result at the Aspen regional and knew he had more in the tank, said his coach. In Targhee, he qualified 16th out of roughly 25. He had to make up that differential in the finals and did so by opening up with an air that no one else had hit.

Also of note on this trip, SSCV’s McKayla Meyers scored a sixth-place result in the 15-18 women’s event, which puts her one step closer to championships.

With lackluster snowfall this year in much of the West, many contests have been cancelled or moved. It’s been a tough season, but Holder says there’s a silver lining.

“The lack of snow gave Vail a bit of a grit we don’t usually have, so the team’s technical skiing — rocks and trees when they’re exposed — has really helped them get better at that aspect of the sport,” said Holder. “Because it hasn’t been pow’ days every other weekend, they’re getting used to the fact that they have to ski really well.”