Spring terrain doesn’t deter area skiers | PostIndependent.com

Spring terrain doesn’t deter area skiers

Madeleine Osberger

Bulletproof snow, changing to heavy slush by afternoon.

During the IFSA North American Championships in Snowbird, Utah, that took place from April 10 to 13, big-mountain athletes dealt with a variety of snow surfaces that made an already difficult competition even more challenging.

“It was scary skiing down. You never knew if you were going to double eject,” reported Lynn Merriam, the freestyle/freeride head coach for Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club.

Yet AVSC’s big mountain team prevailed throughout the freeze/thaw spring conditions that were as much a part of the four-day event as the cliffs and couloirs that characterize Snowbird’s vast terrain.

Nineteen members of the big mountain team — which is AVSC’s fastest growing program — qualified for the championships. When all was said and done, 13 skiers traveled to Utah for this season-ending event that saw six athletes qualify for the final day of competition.

Among the men aged 12-14, Jackson Ferraro of Aspen emerged in 31st.

“Jackson is extremely pleased with himself,” Merriam said. “He stood up on a bulletproof course.”

Also competing in the finals for this age class were Logan Brown of Basalt and AVSC athlete Nicholas Goralka.

“Extremely consistent skiing” by Brooks Gorsuch landed the athlete in 25th place for men aged 15-18, the coach said. Davis Henschel also qualified for finals.

In her first year as an AVSC big mountain skier, Rhianna Borderick held her own against what Merriam described as a “tough field [because] those girls just shred.” Borderick finished 20th among women aged 15-18 in the finals.

“It’s awesome to see how these kids are starting to use their skills to shine,” Merriam, a Carbondale-area resident, added.

The championships attracted athletes from Canada as well as from clubs throughout the U.S. Many are athletes “we don’t compete against during the regular season,” Merriam noted.

One day after their return to Aspen, the freeride team gathered at the Red Onion where special awards and nearly two-dozen varsity letters were handed out. AVSC jibbers of the year are Carson Campisi of Basalt and Keenan McIntyre while Nick Goralka received the annual “sickbird” award.

Freeriders will be back on the local slopes this summer, as Buttermilk once again recontours its lower trails to build what has been effectively termed the “Buttermilk Glacier.” This is the third year Aspen Skiing Co. has allowed the mounds of snow produced for Winter X Games event to be re-purposed for spring and summer use.

In May, alpine racers will be invited to train on the glacier. In June, freestyle team members will take over the terrain for training that will be enhanced by the club’s giant airbag.

More information can be found at the team’s website, http://www.teamavsc.org.

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