A USSA Rocky Mountain Freestyle competition happened on Vail Mountain Saturday, with a mogul competition taking place on Cookshack, and a double slopestlyle competition taking place in the Golden Peak Terrain Park. Each skier in the slopestyle event had two runs with each run counting as a separate competition. Numerous local skiers came out to compete in the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV) hosted events. Among the locals, there were skiers that came from Winter Park, Telluride, Aspen, Durango, and even a few athletes from the University of Colorado Freestyle Team. The temperatures were biting cold. With chattering teeth many athletes declared statements like, “At least I can’t feel my toe bang, because I can hardly feel my feet.” Some of the coaches had athletes skip some training time and go warm up inside. “It’s better that they are warm and ready to go rather than being stiff and cold before their run. These guys know these jumps and are ready to go, I’m just making sure they don’t freeze out here,” remarked SSCV’s Freeski Program Coach Peter O’Brien at the top of the slopestyle course. Despite the cold temperatures, local athletes showed visitors that this is their mountain and they know it well.
The slopestyle competition had some incredible tricks thrown considering the biggest jump in the park is around 45 feet. Surprisingly, Mitchell Lee successfully threw a switch 1080 over the third jump. SSCV swept the podium at the slopestyle event with John Leonard in first, Jake Cummings in second, and Mitchell Lee in third during the first competition. John Leonard ended in first place during the second run as well with nearly a ten-point lead over the competition. Mitchell Lee ended in second on run two and Casey Andringa from Winter Park placed third.
Over on Cookshack, SSCV athletes performed well on the mogul course that was just finalized earlier this week. “I like this course better than steamboat’s course last weekend. The jumps are a bit more forgiving here, and I like the even consistency of the pitch,” says Mandy Silverstone from The University of Colorado’s Freestyle Ski Team.
Matthew Lesuer, who is a local SSCV athlete and also a Bermudian National Team skier, seemed to enjoy the course as well. He skied a clean top to bottom run landing a 360 on the top air and a beautiful backflip lay on the bottom air. Hunter Bailey, also from SSCV, had a fantastic day and won the event with a fast top to bottom run.
Bailey landed a nice back full on the top air and a cork 720 on the bottom air. “Hunter really went for it today and it paid off. He was the only one to go huge on a technical trick on the top air. There were a few other skiers out there throwing some nice tricks off the top air, but Hunter was going big and coming out clean,” says SSCV’s Freestyle Program Director John Dowling. Hunter skied in the U.S. Freestyle Selections a month ago and will be competing in some of the NorAm events this year.
On the girls side of the mogul competition, Kaitlyn Harrell from SSCV had consistent and near perfect turns, which landed her in first place overall. Harrell placed exceptionally well at The U.S. Freestyle Selections just missing a World Cup start by one place. The young fifteen year old is on track for more great results this season.
Jack Skidmore from SSCV placed 2nd in the J3 division followed by Matthew Leseur in 3rd. Erin Coyne from SSCV performed well with a 6th place finish among the J2 girls. Tess Johnson had another great age class win for the J4’s, making it two weekends in a row.
Even though it was bitter cold, 158 athletes came out to compete in Vail’s first USSA Freestyle event of the season.