Start of Elk Chutes

2010 Crystal Mountain Junior Freeskiing Championships and the Whistler Freeride Club


This past weekend, April 2-4, nine members of the Whistler Freeride Club traveled to compete in the Junior Freeskiing Championships at Crystal Mountain, WA. The athletes competing from Whistler included Sean MacDonald, Connor MacDonald, Tom Peiffer, Liam Peiffer, Mitchell Long, Camilla Loughlin, Dustin Watson, Stefan Dawydiak, and Lauren Cameron. For all the athletes this would be their first freeskiing competition and everyone was both excited and nervous for the event. Jen Ashton and myself served as coaches for the competition.

After leaving Whistler at 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon, Jen and I finally arrived at our hotel at the base of Crystal around 11:30pm. What was only supposed to be a 6-hour drive was much longer due to sitting in Vancouver traffic for hours and then the border crossing line up. The border patrol officer was a bit confused by the term freeskiing competition and asked if it was one of the “ski-boarding” sports. Feeling already exhausted from the traffic, we decided to just nod our heads and he let us on our way.

Silver King

The next morning we awoke to 10” of new and a forecast for more on the way. We ate breakfast quickly and made it to registration. Almost 90 athletes from all over were registered to compete and it was awesome seeing young kids stoked on freeskiing. Friday was supposed to be a day-long inspection day, but due to the new snow Elk Chutes didn’t open until about 2:30pm. The Whistler crew spent the day being tourists and doing everything that frustrates us about them – including following random tracks to try finding cool spots. We would spot what looked like a good skier and then follow.

Conor on Elk Chutes

The day was great and we all had a good time exploring the mountain enjoying the fresh snow. When the venue finally opened we were able to squeeze two inspection runs before we were kicked off the hill by ski patrol. We have been training hard the past few weekends for the competition back at Whistler, and the kids had learned a solid understanding of what the judges were looking for. Jen and I helped them scope their lines and gave them our opinion- emphasizing finding a line they could ski well and have a lot of FUN with.

Saturday morning came around and with it more new snow on the ground. After breakfast and the morning athlete meeting, the skies opened up and it was great weather for the rest of the day. Everyone seemed a bit nervous but exited for their run. We had two more inspection runs that morning and our athletes seemed to have a solid idea for their lines. The junior competitions consist of two age categories for the event, 12-14 year old girls and boys, followed by 15-17 year old girls and boys. Our club had athletes in all age groups except the 12-14 year old girls.

Camilla in the start line of the King

Being a coach for the event was a bit nerve-racking and each time one of our athletes dropped in I felt butterflies in my stomach. With this event being everyone’s first competition and nerves running high some of our athletes did have a crash or two. Thankfully no one was injured and everyone learned something from their run. The kids were really surprised how different the venue looked from their inspection runs to their qualifying run. The bottom portion of Elk Chutes saw a lot of traffic and the snow became thin quickly. Many athletes for all clubs became hung up and lost control in this section. Jen and I were proud to see all of our athletes competing for the first time with smiles all around!

By the end of the day, many spectacular runs and crashes alike went down. Both Jen and myself were genuinely impressed with the level of talent from these young rippers. The future looks very bright for our sport. After our athletes completed their runs, Jen and I led the team up to the top of the final day venue for inspection. While the kids didn’t care for the 25-minute hike, by the time we got to the top everyone was impressed with how massive the Silver King venue was. After we inspected the Silver King we made it back down to the base for the results of day one. When the scorecards were passed out we discovered four of our athletes had qualified for the finals! Camilla was in 1st place for the 15-17 year old girls, Connor in 4th place for 15-17 year old boys, Sean in 11th place and Tom in 17th for the 12-14 year old boys.

Lauren on Elk Chutes

The next morning we awoke to more snow again! This comp has to be one of the best snow conditions I have every seen for a freeskiing competition! As Jen and I took the athletes up to the top the winds started to pick up. After inspection started I took a few of the early running athletes up to the top. A few minutes after we reached the top of the highest chair it was closed to the public and all athletes had to load immediately due to the winds. Hiking across the ridge to the Silver King we encountered some of the strongest wind anyone had ever experienced. Numerous times we sought refuge in the few clumps of trees to prevent being blown away! The comp was almost canceled but everyone made it up just in time. It was tough on the athletes and coaches alike waiting at top for their run. After a few long hours, all the athletes had completed their runs and it was finally time to find out the results.

Camilla had won the oldest girl category, Connor was in third for the guys, Tom and Sean finished in a very respectable 10th and 14th respectively. In the end we were very proud of all of our athletes and everyone had a memorable time at their first freeskiing competition. With the amount of talent and skill among all these juniors the future of freeskiing looks very promising!

Boy’s podium

Girl’s 15 -17 podium

– Article by Ryan Prentice


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  1. tatsuno

    Nice write-up, Prentice.  Stoked to see your kids are having fun and stomping airs.  Big ups to them all from sunny Aspen, CO!

    – Tats

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