Despite cap, Vail big mountain competition bigger than usual |

Despite cap, Vail big mountain competition bigger than usual

78 kids took to the Lover’s Leap course on Wednesday, event continues Thursday

A big mountain competitor clears a rock above a section of trees Wednesday on Vail Mountain. The event continues on Thursday.
Chris Dillmann photo.

The Lover’s Leap course on Vail Mountain saw its biggest event ever for competitors under the age of 12 on Wednesday.

Seventy-eight kids from around the state took to the steep section of Blue Sky Basin, an area that begins with a cornice before offering skiers and snowboarders several rocks and cliffs to hit, and several groupings of trees to avoid.

Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Matt Luczkow said 28 of the participants Wednesday were from the local club, which is by far the most Vail-area participation he’s seen in the annual event.

“For this age group, that’s a huge number,” he said.

More photos, and complete results here:

‘The fun stuff’

The discipline is called big mountain, and it attracts a type of skier that is looking for “the fun stuff on the mountain,” said parent Don Conty.

“When we read about the big mountain program, it just sounded like the perfect thing for my kids,” Conty said. “They get to ski all over the mountain, jump off cliffs, do the things they like to do when they’re out skiing with their friends.”

On Wednesday, Conty’s youngest child, Venessa, was judged by a panel of experts for her form and line selection while skiing the mountain and jumping off cliffs. She was the very first competitor of the day. Conty was there cheering her on along with a small group of spectators.

“The scene is just way less competitive, more fun, and the camaraderie level is unbelievable,” Conty said. “After her run, she lapped back up to the top for another three and a half hours to cheer the rest of the team on.”

Snowboarders and skiers were tested on different features in less-than-ideal snow conditions during the annual big mountain competition Wednesday in Vail Mountain’s Blue Sky Basin.
Chris Dillmann photo.

Selecting the natural

On Thursday, Conty’s oldest child, CJ, will compete in the 12-18 age division. Conty said in the four years his kids have been competing in big mountain, they’ve seen the sport grow considerably as more kids like them seek out an avenue of skiing and snowboarding that isn’t timed, and doesn’t require a man-made course.

Luczkow said the Lover’s Leap competition was capped at 78 kids under 12 on Wednesday, and 90 kids ages 12-18 scheduled for Thursday, and without the limit, “We probably could have had more,” he said.

“All the events have been selling out this season,” Luczkow added.

Wednesday’s competition was the third of the season for most of the kids in Luczkow’s program. But as is the case with a welcoming sport like big mountain, participants are welcome to pick it up at any point.

“Several of these kids from other areas were likely competing in big mountain for the very first time today,” Luczkow said. “There were some crashes, but everybody skied pretty well.”

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