Equipment failure can’t slow AVSC freestylers |

Equipment failure can’t slow AVSC freestylers

Jon Maletz
Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard freestyle team member Dan Armbruster flies through the air during a recent competition. (Courtesy Dan Armbruster)

Aspen, CO ColoradoKEYSTONE – Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club freestyle coach Geoff Stump was looking forward to watching his young skiers compete in the Return to Keystone Classic slopestyle Dec. 18.As the day wore on, however, he was the one doing much of the work. “I was literally working on equipment the entire time. We were doing things that shouldn’t be done to skis,” Stump said Sunday. “It was like a year’s worth of malfunctions in one contest.”The tail of one of Jack Sullan’s ski was delaminating so badly he couldn’t take off switch. Brandon Claybaugh’s skis also were falling apart. Stump temporarily remedied the problem with the duct tape he borrowed from ski patrol.It seemed like every competitor suffered some type of equipment malfunction, from busted buckles to broken bindings, Stump said. In between, he worked as a ski technician, using wax in an attempt to alleviate speed problems. Travis Van Domelen approached his coach near the end of competition with another interesting predicament.

“He asked for a belt. Most of these guys wear their pants down at their knees, so I wasn’t sure why he needed one,” Stump joked. “He told me his pants were falling down. My final tuneup was giving Travis a piece of twine to tie his belt loops together.”The whole thing was actually humorous. The technical delegate and the starter were laughing.” Van Domelen’s plight paled in comparison to that of club veteran Sam Ferguson. First, he broke a pole and needed to borrow a pair from Stump. Later, he had a binding mishap. Stump thought he had fixed the problem until Ferguson broke it again during competition, sending his ski flying over a jump. Stump had to rig a safety strap onto Ferguson’s binding to allow him to continue. The technical delegate approved the fix, and Ferguson was ready to take a second run. He knelt down to tighten his boot, and a buckle snapped.”He told me ‘I think I’m done. This just doesn’t seem right,'” Stump remembered. “I told him to go down and regroup. We cinched down his boot, and he went out and did what a veteran rider does. To come back after all that and still throw down a solid run was special.”AVSC’s competitors overcame their equipment issues to capture four top-10s in the two slopestyles. Van Domelen managed to keep his pants up during the first competition and landed the club’s first 1080 of the year en route to silver. The 16-year-old missed out on first place by one tenth of a point, but did finish first among J2 skiers.

Charlie Lasser, who won slopestyle gold at the 2006 Chevrolet Freestyle Junior Olympics last season in Park City, Utah, finished seventh and fourth.”Charlie was skiing incredibly strong,” Stump said. “He set down the jumps that he chose and was using this as a tuneup. This was the first [U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association] competition.”Matt Terral made great strides in his recovery from an ankle injury, taking fourth overall and second among J2s. Terral tore his ankle during a summer camp in 2005 and wasn’t skiing until February, Stump said. He started jumping on smaller kickers last winter, but didn’t tackle larger jumps until the day before competition, Stump said. The progress he made was drastic.”He covered what it would take a normal athlete half a season of skiing to go through,” Stump said. “It’s a little like riding a bike, and when he got out there he was reminded of a few things he learned before. He made me feel like a great coach.”Sullan, who landed a pair of 540 rodeos, finished behind Terral in fifth. Glenwood Springs’ Dan Armbruster, in just his second year with AVSC, finished third among J1s in both competitions – his best results ever, Stump said.

Claybaugh took third among J3s and 14th overall during the morning slopestyle. Teammate Kelly Selby finished 19th and 22nd out of 42.”All these guys made a little noise last year, but I’m psyched to have them roar in the beginning of the year,” Stump said.AVSC’s freestylers next take to the air when they host two slopestyle and halfpipe competitions Jan. 4-5 at Buttermilk. Stump said he’ll be sure to have some tape on hand.”We were ‘Team Duct Tape AVSC’ out there,” Stump joked, “but we managed.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is

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