Local freestylers find gold in Utah
Neither a field of elite competitors, nor gusts in excess of 40 mph could stop Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club freestyle skiers Charlie Lasser and Whitney Wickes in Park City.Lasser won gold and Wickes the silver in slopestyle at the 2006 Chevrolet Freestyle Junior Olympics. Lasser is the club’s first-ever freestyle national champion, AVSC freestyle program director Eric Knight said.”We are so proud of the entire team’s performance today in tough conditions,” Knight said in a press release.Wickes sat in first out of 18 competitors after posting a first-round score of 52. She bested that number by eight points in round 2 but finished second by 0.7. On her second run, Wickes completed both rails at the top of the course cleanly, then threw a 360 and a 540 in succession. On the last hit – participants had to choose between a jump or a roller coaster rail – Wickes cleared the rail. She was the only female skier to attempt the feature during competition, Knight said. “It could have gone either way,” AVSC head freeride coach Geoff Stump said in the press release. “It was close. I knew she had to be in the top two.”Lasser, a J2 skier, found himself in sixth after one round. His score of 67.7 was nearly nine points off the pace of fellow competitor Davis Souza. Lasser enlisted the advice of Stump and Elana Chase during intermission. The pep talk paid off.After stomping both rails, Lasser threw down a truck driver 540 – he spun off-axis while grabbing both skis with both hands. He followed that with a switch 540 mute, then finished with a corked 720. He posted a score of 76.1, which was .6 better than second-place finisher Souza. “Charlie has a unique style, and when he lays it down it’s impressive,” Knight said. “I think the carved truck driver  got the judges’ and everyone else’s attention.” Lasser’s teammates Sam Ferguson (71) and Jack Sullan (68.2) finished eighth and 12th, respectively, out of a field of 56. Both improved on their first-run scores by nearly three points in the final.”Our team is healthy, strong and hungry to make a name for themselves,” Stump said in the release. “It’s a great way to start off the championship week.”
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I try to remember to give thanks every day I spend outside, whether it be floating the Colorado or Roaring Fork, fishing an epic dry fly hatch on the Fryingpan, or teasing up tiny brook trout on a remote lake or stream. We’re spoiled rotten here, so it’s easy to be thankful.