Vail freeskier Finn Griffith starts season with back-to-back wins |

Vail freeskier Finn Griffith starts season with back-to-back wins

Junior big mountain skier dominating US competitions after finishing 6th at worlds

Finn Griffith, of Edwards, finished sixth at the Freeride Junior World Championships in Austria in January. He then returned to the U.S. and won back to back competitions stateside.
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Big mountain skier Finn Griffith is enjoying a mountain of big results so far this season, notching a top-10 at the junior world championships in Austria and returning home to back-to-back wins in Wyoming and Colorado.

The Edwards resident competes in the International Freeskiing Association’s junior series, and at 18 years old, he’s enjoying his last season of junior status. If there’s an advantage to be had from being on the older end of the roster, Griffith is certainly realizing it, winning every competition he has entered in the U.S. so far this season.

But venue experience is not among those advantages. Griffith said before Saturday’s competition at Copper Mountain, he had never skied the venue before. The situation was the same at the junior world championships in Austria, where competitions are only allowed to visually inspect the course without getting on it.

“That was a surprise to me, how well he was able to adapt to the visual-inspection-only environment,” Griffith’s coach, Matt Luczkow, said following the competition.

Griffith said if there was one thing he learned from the world championship competition, it’s the importance of visual inspection.

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“I got a little lost up there,” he said. “I definitely learned that my visual inspection could use a little work.”

His ability to adapt on-course saved his run, Luczkow said. After dropping into a chute on a lower part of the face than he expected, Griffith may have overcompensated a bit by going extremely fast through the chute, but found a nice wall of snow to speed check himself. A big jump that followed sent him bigger than he expected, but he was able to ride it out.

“I ended up going about 10 feet bigger than I wanted to, but was able to pull it out,” he said. “I think I might have got docked a bit for that on the landing — the judges want to see you stomp it without any control issues.”

Luczkow said while he was pleasantly surprised by the run itself, he’s not surprised to see Griffith starting to excel in big mountain skiing.

“He’s the only athlete I know who is waking up at 5 a.m. to work out in the gym before going skiing,” Luczkow said. “He’s gotten a lot stronger, and then when he’s skiing he really puts it all out there in his training.”

Over the course of the last year, Luczkow said Griffith has demonstrated that he can win any competition he enters.

“He was getting a lot of second places last year, getting stronger, and now his skiing is that much better,” Luczkow said.

Griffith said he has benefitted from not just the coaching of Luczkow, a former competitive freeskier himself, but his access to Vail Mountain, which — contrary to popular opinion — has a lot of zones that are perfect for practicing.

“First run on a powder day, I’m going under the lift line on Chair 11, every time,” he said.

Griffith’s first win in the U.S., at Grand Targhee in Wyoming, was on Feb. 4, and that was considered a national competition on the International Freeskiing Association circuit. His win on Saturday, at Copper, was a regional competition. The points on the overall season will include an athlete’s best two results from regionals and nationals, so with a win in each, Griffith is off to as good of a start as possible.

“He deserves it,” Luczkow said. “He’s been working really hard.”

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