Powder break helps Aspen freeriders execute at Snowbird
The forecast called for 30 inches of snow in the mountains surrounding Salt Lake City by the weekend. So Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club snowboard freeride coach Ryan Jervis loaded up his three athletes and left Aspen early for the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association junior event in Snowbird, Utah.The plan was to freeride Friday and for snowboarders Jake Kelley, Finn Featherstone and Jack Chase to learn the nuances of Snowbird’s daunting terrain a little bit ahead of schedule. “We hurried up and got there Thursday night so we could ski pow,” Jervis said.As the snow continued to fall Friday, organizers moved the event back a day to Jan. 13, “so we played all day Saturday, as well,” Jervis said. That ended up being a wise move.”Snowbird is on steroids for steepness, cliffs and chutes,” the coach said. “I took them everywhere that I would want to ride so they would get the chance to feel what steep is like.” When competition day finally rolled around, AVSC’s team was ready. As they scouted out runs, “I could tell things just looked a little more doable for them. I’d say, ‘How about this line?’ They’d say, ‘How about this line?'” Jervis said.In this one-run competition, Kelley rode fluidly, stomped two cliff jumps and cruised into the finish at a high rate of speed, spraying the judges and “making it look really easy,” Jervis said. Kelley rode away with first place in the 12- to 14-year-old category. Chase’s clean run in the Rasta Chutes produced a fourth place, and Featherstone took sixth in the 15- to 18-year-old age bracket. “He would have taken first if he had landed the run,” Jervis said about Featherstone, whose small mistake proved costly.Next up for the freeriders is a trip to Crested Butte on Jan. 26 and 27.Saturday’s Slopestyle in VailAVSC’s Joey Lang and Ethan Burkley performed exceptionally well in a field deemed “extremely talented” by freestyle head coach Lynn Merriam. Competitors toughed out two contests in the arctic cold at Vail.”Ethan threw his first front flip in the contest, which was a huge confidence builder,” Merriam said. “Joey had been working on a flat 3 all week in training, and we were able to get it in his run, which helped edge him near the top 10 overall.”Friday’s Rail Jam at Wagner ParkA total of 66 kids turned out for the USASA Rail Jam during Winterskol. Two snowboarders, Robert Pettit and Ayla Angelo, and two skiers, Kallisa Stump and James Phillips, earned berths in the street jam event during next week’s Winter X Games at Buttermilk.Friday’s Europa Cup Super-G in Spital, AustriaLongtime AVSC member Katie Ryan is tied for first (with Abby Ghent, of Vail) in NorAm Cup downhill points (180), where she is ranked 88th in the world (moved up from 130th earlier this season). Ryan is ranked 128th in super-G. Katie Hartman, a University of Colorado standout, also trains with AVSC.For more on AVSC competitions and results, tune in to “AVSC Presents Weekly With Walt” on GrassRoots TV, Channel 12, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and throughout the week.
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When mountain culture enthusiasts and athletes descend on Vail for the 20th annual Mountain Games from June 7-12, they will carry on a tradition that dates back to the 1970s in Eagle County and was once deemed illegal.