Time for mogul skiers to have their say
From the high-speed dash through the bumps to the back flips and cork 720s, mogul skiing has a beauty unto itself.
Thrilling for spectators as its format lends to near-nonstop action, this weekend’s Rocky Mountain Freestyle and USSA Moguls at Aspen Highlands showcases the country’s best competitors, age 12 through early 20s.
About 100 athletes are expected for the three days of bump skiing action that’s co-hosted by Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and Aspen Highlands.
The open moguls competition begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Then on Martin Luther King Day, Highlands’ Thunderbowl venue showcases dual moguls beginning at 10 a.m.
“There’s about a run every minute so there’s not much down time,” said Eric Knight, AVSC program director for freestyle, freeride, freeski and snowboard.
AVSC will field at least three athletes — Colby Lee, Aaron Lee and Sierra Reeves —in this elite junior event that has become a regular stop on the Rocky Mountain Freestyle Tour.
Under the direction of new head mogul coach Kris Pepe, AVSC’s team also includes Stephanie Anglin and Lacy Grice.
Program enrollment has more than doubled this season, according to Knight.
“Last year we had four signed up for the team. Right now for moguls there’s 11,” he said.
Training on the Highlands mogul course since mid-November, Knight said the AVSC athletes benefited from skiing alongside the U.S. national team and other high-level competitors who were seeking early-season, on-snow training.
Some will return this weekend for another run in the bumps.
“Definitely we’ll be looking at future U.S. Team and Australian national team athletes. (Aussies Felix Gardiner and Jasper Gardiner are currently training with AVSC.) Probably some future Olympians,” he added. Open and dual mogul competitions are also scheduled for this venue Feb. 7 and 8.
AVSC is still looking for volunteers for both mogul weekends.
AVSC Excellence Director Walt Evans will interview mogul skiers Anglin and Reeves, as well as Eric Knight, on today’s edition of “Weekly with Walt.” It airs on GrassRoots TV at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Channel 12 (channel 82 below Catherine’s Store) and is repeated throughout the week.
Evans also will speak with Mark Cole, executive director of AVSC.
Last week, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association named AVSC it’s nonprofit of the year. This is the second time in a decade that the 78-year-old ski and snowboard club has received this honor.
USASA at Copper
AVSC’s pipe and park all-star crew competed Jan. 10-11 at Copper Mountain for halfpipe and slopestyle events.
Finishing on the podium in each of their age groups were Tristan Feinberg and Cassidy Jarrell.
“It was an overall good weekend for the team,” said freeride coach Greg Ruppel.
With minimal speed training under their belt, AVSC’s adaptive team still prevailed during recent races at Winter Park.
Highlights include three golds in the men’s giant slalom visually impaired category.
Athlete Kevin Burton and guide Chris Tatsuno won the giant slalom, super-G and combined races.
In the giant slalom, Aaron Howell won silver in men’s siting.
In super-combined, standing category, Thomas Walsh won bronze. He repeated this placement in the super-G.
Josh Elliott was the gold medalist in men’s super-G and super-combined, sitting category.
Mark your calendar
The AVSC Nordic Bonfire Dinner takes place this year Feb. 7.
This annual fund-raiser, which puts the emphasis on food, fun and friendship, will be held from 6-8 p.m. at the Cross Country Center on the Aspen Golf Course.
Tickets are $12 for kids, $25 for adults and $50 per family of four. Equipment rentals also will be available for $10.
The dance team traveled this past weekend to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, for the high school national championships, winning the intermediate varsity pom division on Sunday.