Words and Photos: John Stifter
SNOWBIRD, UTAH – After receiving a foot of new snow, junior skiers shredded fast and aired big on Snowbird's famed North Baldy contest venue for Sunday's Snowbird Junior Freeskiing Nationals. And although their ages might classify them as kids, a large showing of spectators might have thought otherwise, as the 12- to 17-year-olds displayed the confidence and skills of the adult ilk.
In the Men's 15-17 age field, Snowbird/Alta's Leo Ahrens, who finished sixth in the inaugural version The Draft in Powder's February issue, came out on top with a strong, fast run highlighted by a smooth backflip at the bottom in the Boneyards section. Close friend and Snowbird/Alta shred partner Johnny Collinson finished in second with a hard-charging run, while Alta's Andrew Pollard skied the most fluid line of the day to round out the podium. To add to the Little Cotttonwood Canyon dominance, Snowbird/Alta's Sam Cohen placed fourth with a solid contest run.
"Everybody was so amped to ski North Baldy with a foot of new snow," said Pollard, who also won the Junior Sickbird award with a smooth straightline out of the Broom Closet feature at the bottom. "It's pretty awesome that a bunch of caffeine kids hucking themselves all landed on the podium."
As for the Girls 15-17 division, Hailey Loeffler of Crested Butte landed atop the podium in addition to winning the first-ever Captain Jack Carey award for the competitor possessing the best attitude of the contest.
It was called the deepest contest field ever for a junior freeskiing contest with kids representing such resorts as Squaw Valley, Crystal Mountain, Mad River Glen, Taos, Crested Butte, Vail, Sugar Bowl, and Bridger Bowl.
1. Casey Rose, Alta
2. Hobie Kilgore, Alta
3. Jackson Bodtker, Bridger Bowl
4. Travers Johnson, Snowbird
5. Grant Howard, Alta
1. Elizabeth Elmgren, Squaw Valley
2. Natalie Bogardus, Squaw Valley
3. Brittany Barefield, Crested Butte
1. Hailey Loeffler, Crested Butte
2. Mackenzie Epperson-Valum, Alta
3. Emily Nall, Squaw Valley
4. Natalie Barefield, Crested Butte
5. Tasha Hellwell, Alta
1. Leo Aherns, Snowbird/Alta
2. John Collison, Snowbird
3. Andrew Pollard, Alta
4. Sam Cohen, Snowbird/Alta
5. Michael Martina, Winter Park