AVSC breaks in venue with style
Members of the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s freestyle team finally got to break in the new moguls course and big-air jumps on Thunderbowl at Aspen Highlands over the weekend during a Rocky Mountain Freestyle Series event.
Over 100 skiers from around the state competed under sunny skies, including Snowmass Village native Steele Spence, the 19-year-old AVSC skier-turned-pro who will compete at Breckenridge this weekend for the right to return to the X Games at Buttermilk, Jan. 3-Feb. 2.
Saturday’s big-air competition brought out the best in AVSC’s Brittany Biebl, who finished second overall for her first jump and third overall on her second. Brittany threw clean double spread-eagles both times off the biggest jump, catching about 40 feet of air in the process. She was one of only two girls to attack the XL kicker.
The AVSC boys were paced by 12-year-old J-4 prodigy Matt Terral who finished third overall on Saturday’s first jump, behind two older, J-1 skiers. Terral threw a complicated D-Spin 7 (720 rotation with the first spin upside-down and the second spin upright) to wow the judges and put him on the podium.
Snowmass Village J-1 skier Dusty Spence took sixth overall with a clean 360 iron cross, while J-2 skier John Lafferty finished in ninth place with a barely landed Lincoln Loop. AVSC’s Zac Giammarrusco finished second for the J-3s and fourth overall.
The AVSC team rose to the occasion for the second jump in the afternoon, taking second through sixth overall. This time, Lafferty stuck the landing of his Lincoln Loop and walked away with second place, just one point shy of first.
AVSC alum and local hero Steele Spence showed his support for the club by joining the competition and finishing third with a 540 which he landed switch. Younger brother Dusty Spence took fourth place with his effort.
J-4 skier Terral gave his elders a taste of what’s to come by posting another high score with his D-Spin 7 to take fifth overall. Glenn Engelman nailed down sixth place, second for J-2s, with his 360 toxic (inside tail-grab). AVSC took the top two spots for J-3s with 13-year-old Jordan Laughren finishing first and 14 year-old Matt Walker in second.
On Sunday and Monday, Biebl took seventh place in the open moguls for J-1 girls, while 13-year-old Julianne Davis took third and fifth for the J-3s by skiing two very strong runs for seventh place and second overall.
“It was a great finish for a J-3 in a tough field of 39 other competitors,” said AVSC freestyle director Eric “Doughboy” Knight. Kaitlin Roos had a good run going on Monday, but threw a helicopter at the bottom and ran into some trouble. She still finished fourth and fifth for the J-3s, in ninth place overall.
Rachel Weitzenkorn rebounded from a disappointing Sunday outing to finish with 12th place on Monday, second for J-2s, a personal best so far this year. Alexi Paparo was seventh overall on Monday, first place for J-3s. The 13-year-old Paparo skied a super-clean run and received very high turn scores, according to Knight.
Both days, 18-year-old Dusty Spence was AVSC’s highest finisher on the boys side. He finished in sixth and eighth overall, fourth and fifth for the J-1 division.
“He’s finishing his runs nicely after coming back from shoulder surgery,” said Knight.
Next for AVSC was Engelman, who had a very fast run on Monday with huge air, with an extremely direct, aggressive line. Engelman went from fifth to 13th overall and was the fourth J-2 finisher both days.
“Outstanding consistency,” said Knight. “This is the first time Glenn’s competed against some of the big boys and he’s really starting to hang in there.”
AVSC freeride coach Travis Redd, 19, pinned down fourth place overall despite very little mogul training.
For AVSC’s J-3s, 13-year-old Chris Schumacher had his best runs of the year finishing second and third for his division. He was followed by his teammate Giammarrusco in third place on Sunday. J-3 skier Jackson Horn also stepped up to finish in second place for J-3s on Monday.
“A pretty strong effort for our J-3 guys out of a field of 81,” said Knight. “The course stayed in great shape all day with consistent snow conditions. The pitch, fall line were all good.
“A big thank-you goes out to Aspen Skiing Company. Without their help building this course, we never would have been able to host such a successful event.”
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Vail and Beaver Creek resorts Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company agrees with the state’s assessment that the ski industry must be out-front in its approach to ensure a safe and successful season in Colorado.