The Team Summit big-mountain team battled through less-than-ideal snow conditions this season to finish with really great results at the year's final comps in Taos and Snowbird recently.
Drew Petersen, Ian Borgeson and George Rodney, among other team members, made their way down to Taos for the national championship of the Junior Events Tour of the Americas (JETA), a new promoter, which is gaining steam in the big-mountain youth circuit. Petersen won the event and Rodney threw one of the biggest-ever airs for a junior - an 80-footer, which didn't work out too well for him on the hard-pack landing, but he skied away from it uninjured.
"Not only was there two Team Summit athletes on the podium, but one of them won the overall title, so it was a pretty big day for us," said coach Chris Carson.
Then, it was on to Snowbird for the Junior Freeskiing Tour Championships, the culmination of the season for junior big-mountain skiers, where Rodney, 18, was named season champion of that series and IFSA champion for juniors, while Borgeson won the day's competition.
"What's cool about all three of those skiers is they have very different styles, and they pick lines that play into their various styles. One of the challenges with big-mountain coaching is evaluating those athletes and getting them in the right line selection, so they can perform at the highest level," Carson said.
In the four previous events, Borgeson was the first-place qualifier, but wasn't able to close the deal in the finals.
"There was a lot of pressure once again because he came into the finals as the first-place qualifier. In his first run, he was far-and-away dominant," Carson said. "He just stormed it. He did it in a third of the time as everybody and hit three enormous airs that just took the breath out of everybody. He stomped his landings and just ripped it."
Borgeson won the event, and Rodney, a former Nor-Am alpine racer, took third with fast, fluid style, charging a very difficult line, making it look easy.
Petersen picked a little more technical line and threw a couple spins, which is not his usual style. He skied nice and fluid in the qualifier, but wound up taking a spill in the finals and separated his shoulder, which was the one bummer for Team Summit at the comp.
Petersen will likely make the move up to the Freeskiing World Tour next season. He opted for an additional year on the junior circuit this season to develop his style and distinctive freestyle airs.
Other Team Summit skiers included Nicole Wagner (fourth place for 15-18-year-old girls at Taos in her first-ever big-mountain comp), Pierce McCrerey (first place for 12-14-year-old boys) Tyler Godman, Stuart Edgerly, Brock Arens and Niko Wold.
It wasn't a very good year for big-mountain skiing - for any type of skiing, really - so the team had to make the best of snow conditions.
"That's what people were asking us, 'You guys train in Summit County? You're not known for big-mountain skiing in the first place.' So we focused on technical skiing skills and traditional skiing on the terrain that was available," Carson said. "And actually
A-Basin, even with the minimal snowpack, is great training. We jumped around a lot on technical rocks and trees. It actually wound up being decent skiing."