Freeskiers make it their business to mine medals |

Freeskiers make it their business to mine medals

AVSC's Carson Campisi, center, is a national champion in halfpipe. Campisi will compete this week at the world juniors in Italy.
Eric Knight / Team AVSC photo |

Carson Campisi of Basalt has earned a trip to the 2015 Freestyle Junior World Ski Championships in Valmalenco, Italy.

A gold medalist among U17s and the overall second-place women’s finisher in halfpipe at the recently concluded 2015 USSA Junior Freestyle/Freeskiing National Championships in Park City, Campisi was part of a strong AVSC team that made it their business to mine medals.

Eric Knight, AVSC’s freestyle and freeride program director, said he believes this is the first time the club has sent a halfpipe skier to the junior worlds event. Campisi’s finish was locked up by virtue of her high level tricks that included both 540 and 720 maneuvers.

“Her run was not matched by any other girl,” Knight said.

The pipe was where AVSC athletes had their best finishes.

On his 11th birthday, Kai Morris a U11, struck gold. Andrew Tierney was second in U17 and third overall in the freeski combined category, according to Knight.

U15 Cassidy Jarrell was just behind Tierney for the overall, (big air, halfpipe, slopestyle) having taken a bronze medal in aerials.

Ian Catto was second in U17 aerials and Tristan Feinberg third for U13s.

Also dominating the halfpipe were U19s Gage Carr (second) and Keenan McIntyre, who Knight said, finished “an impressive fourth.”

A small mistake turned what was shaping up to be a “unbelievable” run for Joey Lang into a sixth-place finish.

In the big air event, Kai Morris won gold among U11s and Tristan Feinberg was bronze medalist in the U13 category.

The team’s overall strength continues to be shored up by improvements made to AVSC’s training facilities, such as the air bag and super trampoline, more focused conditioning and extended on-snow seasons at Buttermilk that began two years ago.

“These guys have executed their long-term plans,” Knight said.

He applauded the entire team, which also included Tyler Spence, who skied in slopestyle and aerials, as well as head coach Greg Ruppel and Peter Olenick (coach and Winter X Games veteran) for getting to the championships in Park City.

“Just to qualify for it is a huge accomplishment,” with spots only available to the top 50 in each discipline, regardless of age.

Many of these same athletes and their teammates, including a passel from AVSC, will be competing at Copper Mountain beginning March 27 for the USASA Nationals.

Big mountain

The invitations are starting to be extended for next month’s IFSA Big Mountain Nationals at Grand Targhee. The under-12 big mountain skiers will have their championships in Breckenridge.

Both venues hosted — or in the case of Targhee — attempted to host events last weekend. Soft snow that turned bulletproof overnight prompted the cancellation of that event due to safety concerns.

Fortunately, better conditions prevailed at Breck, where AVSC’s team brought home three medals and a lot of good experience.

Rhianna Borderick won the women’s 15-18 age group.

Spencer Ellsperman was third for men 12-14.

Davis Henschel (men’s 15-18) was another AVSC bronze medalist.

Andy Bass was fifth in boys under 12; Lilly Gillis was fourth in girls 12-14.

Big mountain continues to be a fast growing discipline, with events typically booking up shortly after registration opens, according to Eric Knight.

Alpine U.S. Nationals

For the first time in seven years, the U.S. Alpine Championships are being staged at an East Coast resort — Sugarloaf, Maine. After running the championships’ downhill here last week – which was won by Aspenite Wiley Maple – this prestigious event resumes this week with men’s and women’s super-G races.

They will be followed by the technical events of giant slalom and slalom, which conclude Sunday. Racing takes place on the Narrow Gauge trail, said to be the only course in the east that is FIS homologated for all race disciplines.

Current AVSC athletes who are competing in Maine include Katy Harris, Erin Spence, Nick Cohee, Nick Mitchell, Bobby Moyer, Brooks Layman and Andrew Hancock.

AVSC alums who have qualified for nationals include Maple, Galena Wardle, Sydney Henegan, Julia Mueller-Ristine, Devon Cardamone and Alice McKennis.

They will be racing against the best the U.S. Team has to offer including Stacey Cook, Mikaela Shiffrin, Steven Nyman and Andrew Weibrecht.

While Lindsey Vonn has said she plans on being in attendance for the races, Vonn was not on the start list for Wednesday’s super-G, one of the overall titles she won during last week’s World Cup Finals in Meribel, France.

Following the alpine championships, Sugarloaf will host the U16 National Assessment Project. Three AVSC skiers —Isabella Johansson, Cooper Cornelius and Dexter Edelman — have qualified for this project.

Roaring Fork Series finale

Many of the above skiers have competed in the Roaring Fork Series races during their lifetimes. Founded as the Aspen Cup races back in the 1970s, the series is open to valley locals as well as competitors from Sunlight Mountain Resort and Powderhorn.

The race is Sunday at Aspen Highlands and features a double-panel slalom. After that run, competitors will be divided into teams and compete in a head-to-head format. Sign-up by March 28 or e-mail Alice Black at for more information.

The Roaring Fork Series races are also the subject of “Weekly with Walt” on GrassRoots TV, which airs at 7 p.m. today and in regular rotation for the next week. Guests include Black and volunteer coordinator Kari McKenna.

GrassRoots TV is shown on Channel 12 upvalley and Channel 82 below Catherine’s Store.

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