Invites on the line at Vail big mountain competition
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s big mountain freeski team made its way to Snowbird, Utah, last week for the final International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association junior national competition ahead of the national championship, which is set for next month, also at Snowbird.
While last week’s event was the final national competition prior to nationals, several SSCV athletes who are currently on the bubble will have an opportunity to qualify at the regional big mountain competition on Vail’s Lover’s Leap on Sunday, March 25. Points awarded at the regional competitions are roughly half of those awarded at the national events, so it will likely require some podium results for many of those athletes.
SSCV’s Sam Heller, who picked up a win in the 12-14 age division in Grand Targhee, Wyoming, earlier this season, did not compete in Snowbird over the weekend, but he did recently receive the official invite to national championships. He’s the sole SSCV athlete currently qualified.
At the Snowbird national, which was held on the Silver Fox venue, Finn Griffith took home the result of the trip with a second place finish in the 12-14 division. Griffith, who’s been battling injuries for the last couple seasons, earned the result via his qualification score after the finals were canceled due to weather.
“Up until this point, he’s been pretty disappointed with his results this season. We put it all on the line for this competition,” said SSCV big mountain coach Justin Holder. “(Griffith) picked a really challenging line with a sizable air, which definitely pushed his comfort zone. … He stomped it and made it look really good.”
Mckayla Meyers — who was battling a violent stomach virus the night before finals and wasn’t able to eat or sleep very much — rallied in the hours before the competition to ski to seventh place in the girls’ 15- 18 bracket, all without having inspected the course. Another result of note was Molly Reeder, who finished seventh in the 12-14 girls’ division.
In addition to Heller, who has already qualified, athletes still in the hunt for national championships include Reeder, Meyers, Griffith and Caroline Ungar. The Vail regional will decide who gets the nod.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.