Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s (SSCV) big mountain team has been on a tear this season. Two weekends ago they swept the podium at a national event in Taos, and this past weekend they almost did it again in Crested Butte at a regional event.
All of the athletes competing in the big mountain circuit are trying to establish enough points to be eligible for the IFSA championships in Revelstoke. For the nationals in Revelstoke, IFSA takes the skiers three best nationals results and two best regionals results to determine who will be able to compete. IFSA has had help this season with a new events tour company.
The JETA tour, which stands for Junior Events Tour of the Americas started last season and “began from demand for events catered toward junior big mountain skiers,” said JETA’s athlete and mountain relations manager Cat Iwanchuck. “In the first year, 2012, Colorado was shot for snow which led us to explore resorts outside of the Rocky Mountain region. Taos held the first JETA event, which allowed 83 athletes, ages 12-18, to compete. These athletes originated from Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico.”
This year’s event went smoothly and had the added bonus of incredible snow. “The extreme terrain, highly technical lines, and multitude of rock features make Taos a great big mountain venue. We are excited to be back in Taos for 2013, and for many years to come,” said JETA’s tour director Nick Whittemore.
At the two-day Nationals event in Taos two weekends ago, huge well-skied runs from the Vail athletes were in abundance. “Everyone had a line choice that was unique to their ability, whether it was technical or fast, it catered to their style. Our skiers went into the competition with a strategy that suited their technique, which led the team to a successful outcome. Kevin had a fast clean run with huge drops, and a big 360 at the end of his run,” said SSCV big mountain coach Nick Courtens.
In the 12-14 year old boys class Kevin Nichols took the win with a clean and very aggressive line on the steep Taos course. Standing on the podium with Kevin Nichols was Grifen Moller in second, and Finn Andersson in third.
This past weekend the boys were on the podium again down at a regional event in Crested Butte. “We brought down nine athletes to the competition in Crested Butte, of which 7 qualified for the finals. The conditions were a bit thin with a descent amount of rocks peppered around,” said SSCV’s head big mountain coach Garrett Scahill.
In the large 12-14 category, Nichols placed first again. Following Nichols were his teammates Grifen Moller in second, Nathan cook in fourth, and Owen Salamunovich in sixth.
Ragan Anthony has been skiing well all season in the big mountain events and placed third in the 15-18 category. In the 15-18 male group, Erik Hilb placed seventh and Mathieu L’esperance placed ninth.
“Erik Hilb had the highest score of the day leading into the finals. In the final event no one knew where they stood, they only knew that they had a good enough qualifying run to make the finals. That knowledge, or lack there of, led Hilb to an unfortunate crash,” said Scahill. “It was good to go down there and get these guys on the course. We have a national competition in Crested Butte next weekend which should be fun for these guys.”