AVSC’s Cassidy Jarrell eyes next step after strong season, repeat national title | AspenTimes.com

AVSC’s Cassidy Jarrell eyes next step after strong season, repeat national title

Last week at Copper Mountain, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athlete Cassidy Jarrell defended his USASA national championship by winning the men's open class division in the freeski halfpipe competition.

Eric Knight, AVSC's freestyle program director, was there to see it. And what he saw was a much different skier than the one from a year ago.

"It really seemed like he kind of took the step this year from one of the top amateurs to a legitimate pro," Knight said. "Last year it was a pretty stacked competition, and this year he looked a step ahead of everybody. He looked like he didn't belong there anymore."

Jarrell, who is a senior at Aspen High School, is among the country's best up-and-coming talents in halfpipe skiing. And his repeat national championship at Copper was simply the cherry on top of a strong season for the Aspen teen.

Only a few weeks prior, Jarrell clinched the overall Revolution Tour title, which is among the top honors for amateur skiers. Now, it will be about legitimizing himself as a true professional, following in the footsteps of AVSC products Alex Ferreira and Torin Yater-Wallace, veteran X Games athletes and Olympians. Ferreira won Olympic silver earlier this year in Korea.

"Just needs another offseason like last year. A few more tricks and be ready to come back strong and hard next year," AVSC pipe and park coach Greg Ruppel said of Jarrell. "He's working his way up into those elite riders. Finally starting to gain confidence with his doubles and some of his bigger tricks. He'll need to add some new ones in the offseason to get him closer to those guys like Alex and Torin."

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Jarrell certainly tasted the big time this winter. He competed in three World Cup events — Copper, Snowmass and Mammoth — with varying results. He failed to make finals in any of the Grand Prix, but did finally put down a solid run Jan. 17 in Mammoth, where he finished 12th.

His most notable result, other than maybe his Dec. 15 Rev Tour win at Copper, was his third-place finish at a February Nor-Am Cup contest in Calgary. He finished 18th overall on the Nor-Am Cup this winter.

But ask him, and his highlight came when he was invited to compete in December's Dew Tour in Breckenridge, which outside of X Games is considered one of the ultimate bucket list competitions for any freestyle skier or snowboarder.

"That was a huge standout — probably the biggest accomplishment. That was the craziest one," Jarrell said. "It was crazy. It's almost unexplainable. I was mind-blown."

Jarrell struggled to even put down a run on the big stage in Breck, but that's the sort of experience that could bode well for him going into the future. His coaches believe he has a good chance to be named to the U.S. Ski Team's rookie team this spring, which could open more doors, from extra training camps with the U.S. coaches to more big-time competitions next winter.

"He's on the right path," Ruppel said of him joining the ranks of pros like Ferreira and Yater-Wallace. "If you look at those guys' runs, Cassidy has two doubles and those guys have four or five doubles in their run. So he's just got to add some of that stuff and up his difficulty a little bit."

Jarrell has long made it clear what his ultimate goal is, and that is to one day compete in his own backyard at X Games Aspen. However, unlike a Grand Prix, which can have 40-some invited athletes, ESPN's iconic winter showcase at Buttermilk more often than not features a limited field.

"I got to learn a couple new tricks, for sure. But just landing those runs at those bigger contests gives you a huge, huge step toward it," Jarrell said of continuing to climb the food chain. "I definitely want to land my runs at all the World Cups. I definitely want to try and put X Games in the future."

A BRIGHT FUTURE

While Jarrell continues to chase at the heels of Ferreira and Yater-Wallace, he's not alone. AVSC's Tristan Feinberg, who turns 15 next week, is already pushing Jarrell. Feinberg finished fifth in the open class at the USASA national championship last week in Copper, the same event Jarrell won.

Then there is AVSC's Kai Morris, who is a year younger than Feinberg. Morris won the overall freeski national championship in the boys' 12-13 age division last week at Copper. All told, Knight said AVSC won 14 total medals in freeski pipe and park competitions at nationals.

Ruppel said Morris will make his Rev Tour debut next winter, while Feinberg is set to return for his second season.

"They are well on their way chasing on Cassidy's heels," Ruppel said. "Those guys are just looking to kind of get themselves used to that non-age group competition and handling the stress. They both have pretty good tricks. They can hang."

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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