By Derek Taylor

Ian Punnett of West Falls, New York, claimed the first American spot in the Salomon Jib Academy Finals on Sunday February 28. Punnett, 16, won stop one of the three-event tour, beating out 60 other skiers at Holiday Valley, just south of Buffalo, New York.

Now in its fourth season, Salomon Jib Academy is a three-stop grassroots tour for skiers 16 and under. Skiers are offered instruction by the Salomon team in the morning, and the top performers from each group are entered into a competition in the afternoon. The event is self-judged, with each group voting on their top skiers to go into the finals, and the entire group picking an overall winner.

As the Holiday Valley champion, Punnett will join Jib Academy winners from across the globe and the Salomon International Team in Mammoth, California on May 2-8 for the weeklong Jib Academy Finals. Past Finals winners have won entry to world-class events, yearlong Salomon sponsorships and free trips to summer camp.

"I went awesome," Punnett says of his first Jib Academy. "I made it to finals, skied with Seth Warner all day, and skied good."

On what he's looking forward to most about Mammoth, Punnett says: "Just skiing some big mountains, mostly. That's the biggest thing: skiing some real mountains and skiing with good people."

There are two more Jib Academies this season: March 21 in Sunday River, Maine, and April 2 in Steven's Pass, Washington. The events are free, but are capped at 60 participants. Check out for more information.