NextSnow SEARCH brings the future to Keystone |

NextSnow SEARCH brings the future to Keystone

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Byron Wells goes high and dry at the Sports Illustrated for Kids NextSnow SEARCH competition at Keystone Friday. Wells, who qualified for the finals out of Breckenridge, finished 61st on Friday to advance to Saturday's round.

KEYSTONE – In a sport where the younger you start the better, the Sports Illustrated for Kids NextSnow SEARCH wants to get a jump on discovering the next Shaun White and Tanner Hall.More than 150 kids from across the country and ranging in age from 9 to 13 have been competing in events of all kinds including racing, moguls, big mountain and freestyle, in order to make it to the finals in Keystone this weekend. The NextSnow SEARCH will pare down the field to a 25-person team organizers believe is the future of skiing and snowboarding. This weekend’s competition is different than most. The field is not separated by skiers or snowboarders, girls or boys or different age groups. And the competitors are judged against each other, according to how they do in every event. But talent on the slopes isn’t all the judges are looking for.

“We’re also looking at how they are as people,” NextSnow SEARCH creator Jack Turner said. “We’re looking for the kid with the good attitude, how do they respect the other competitors.” Growing up in Durango, and going to ski races all of his life, Turner has seen the way a bad attitude can affect other people.”I’ve been to so many races where you see some snotty kid scream at his mom because she didn’t get his skis there fast enough,” Turner said. “If you do that here, you’ll be out of the competition.”Don’t be fooled by the ages of the competitors. These kids are good. Before his slopestyle qualifying run, 12-year-old Minnesotan skier Colten Welch was talking about what he may pull off.”I did a 720 to get here,” Welch said. “I’ll do it again, and I might do a nine.”

Welch said he felt good about his chances against the competition in the park, but even though he was on his best behavior, he wasn’t so sure about how the judges may react to his attitude.”It’s kinda weird,” Welch said of the personality aspect of the competition. “I’m used to them just judging on skills.”Turner isn’t surprised by the NextSnow talent level. He believes there could be several future X Games competitors and Olympians in the competition. “Tanner Hall and Shaun White better keep their eyes on the back door because these kids are coming after them,” Turner said. “I’m looking forward to the day that I have all the source tape of what the members of the Olympic team looked like when they were 11,12 and 13.”One possible future Olympian is from Dillon and claims Keystone as his home mountain. Bruce Perry Jr., 9, was one of the youngest competitors at the competition. He’s also one of the best. Perry, a member of last year’s NextSnow SEARCH’s team, had the highest moguls score of the weekend.

“If I make the team again, I’d be really happy,” Perry said. “It would make my dad really happy, and all my fans and family really happy.”The Sports Illustrated for Kids NextSnow SEARCH continues today at Keystone with the slopestyle and superpipe finals from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.The finals will be broadcast March 5 on NBC.Andy Frame can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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