Lover’s Leap comp qualifies locals for championships
VAIL — Junior extreme skiers took on Lover’s Leap Sunday in a Blue Sky Basin big mountain competition hosted by Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.
It was the final regional competition of the season for big mountain skiers, who brave steep and rocky faces like Lover’s Leap in an effort to score points with judges who watch line selection and other facets of the run to award a point total.
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete Austin Obourn, who won the girls’ 15-18 year old age division, said the course was very difficult.
“It was all ice over the top cornice,” she said. “On the far looker’s right it was all ice, and the far looker’s left was pretty good.”
Obourn chose the looker’s right side of the course.
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“I just wanted to try and push myself,” she said.
Obourn is one of a handful of athletes who qualified for the International Freeskiers Association North American Junior Freeride Championships, which will be held in April 6-8 at Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California.
She said while it was nice to compete at home on Sunday, she had Kirkwood on her mind.
“I hit an air on far looker’s right and the landing was pretty bad, nobody really wanted to hit it, but my mind I wanted to do it in preparation for Kirkwood,” she said. “I knew the conditions in Kirkwood probably won’t be that good, so I was trying to push myself and go a little bigger.”
LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER
Justin Holder, a big mountain coach with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail, said the event was free of any issues.
“There were minimal crashes, usually we see more,” he said. “It was good to be able to get through it without much of that this year.”
Setting up the big mountain course basically involves setting up a judges tent at the bottom and a starting area at the top. Holder and Ski & Snow Club Vail got a lot of help from Vail Ski Patrol, but the event required minimal set up, Holder said.
“It went really smooth,” he said.
Being the final regional comp of the season, it was the last chance for athletes to score points in an effort to make it to the North American championships. Prior to Sunday’s competition, Obourn had already qualified for the championships, along with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athletes Alex Carey and Molly Reeder.
Another round of invites went out following the event, where locals Liam Mattison and Scout Mattison also learned they had qualified. The local twins are 14 years old.
“They were very excited and very relieved,” the twins mother, Helene Mattison, said on Monday. “This is what they had been working for all season.”
The home course advantage may have helped slightly for the Mattisons, despite conditions not being ideal, as the Vail event was what sent them above the top in points to earn their invites to the championships. Scout Mattison took second in the girls 12-14 age division on Sunday, and Liam took fifth in the boys division.
“With big mountain, if you fall, you’re out,” Helene Mattison said. “It can be really disappointing and somewhat easy to do if you’re really going for it. So they were relieved to do well.”