Strong January for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail freeskiing program
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s freeskiing program has started 2019 by mining gold from every corner of the competition circuit.
While many witnessed Alex Ferreira’s gold medal performance at the X Games on Thursday, few know his connection to Vail. The Aspen native works with the Vail Ski & Snowboard Freeski Director Elana Chase, and credits her with much of his development.
“I’m fortunate enough to continue to work with Elana, and I think her tactics and her strategy skills are just bar none,” Ferreira told reporters at a press conference in December. “She’s a really great person on top of that.”
Look deeper into Chase’s programs ranks and results in January and you begin to see what Ferreira noticed years ago, an uncanny ability to develop young athletes.
While Ferreira was winning the top event in the sport at X Games on Jan. 24, Connie Brogden — who also sought out Ski & Snowboard Club Vail to work with Chase — won gold at the Junior World Championships in Switzerland on Jan. 26.
STRENGTH IN STAFF
Earlier this month, members of the club ascended the podium 12 times at the first USASA regional competition of the year. Dylan Boyes captured bronze in his 13-14 age class and Roxy Surridge, of the 11-12 age division, won an invite to the World Rookie Tour’s Grom Fest in Switzerland in March.
“Our strength is our staff,” Chase said. “Athletes may come here because they have heard a coach’s name or know that Colorado gets early snow, but the athletes stick around because we have many excellent coaches — Dave Zweig and Justin Holder to name a few — and our local park and pipe and big mountain venues are top-notch.”
At the National Snowbird Big Mountain competition Jan. 20, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s freeski program was able to show its depth with strong performances in the big mountain discipline of competitive freeskiing.
Jenna Meyers placed first in the 12- to 14-year-old female division. Finn Eisenman, Ski & Snowboard Club Vail’s only big mountain snowboard athlete, placed fifth.
In the especially competitive 15 to 18-year-old male division, Reagan Wallis took fifth place in what also happened to be his first ever national-level big mountain event. Wallis then hopped on an airplane immediately to fly to Switzerland, where he also competed in the Junior World Championships for halfpipe, where he finished fourth.
“It’s great to see Reagan representing several parts of the club,” Chase said. “He started in Alpine racing, gained notoriety in slopestyle and now Reagan is having success in big mountain and halfpipe skiing. Personally, I think it’s great that our club can accommodate a kid’s changing passions.”
With big mountain catching on among younger athletes, Chase’s freeskiing program now has a rookie team for kids younger than 12. Those young athletes took place in their first-ever competition in January in Steamboat, which was also a first-of-its-kind competition.
“There is a new little big mountain series here in Colorado, with five stops, under the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association umbrella,” Chase said. “Apparently, every one of our SSCV athletes, ten to be exact, were sitting in podium positions after the first run … I think our team may have more than a few gems; it’s starting to look more like a gold mine.”
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.