Ski club spotlight: Team Summit’s Grifen Moller, Blake Moller and Jason Tilley
There’s a renaissance brewing in the freestyle ski and snowboard world.
After nearly a decade of spinning like tops — 1440s, 1620s, whatever comes after that — halfpipe and slopestyle riders are getting back to their roots with stylish switch airs, well-timed 1080s and oodles of amplitude. (Just look at Danny Davis’ winning run from last season’s X Games.) Olympic judges might still favor acrobatics over soul, but in Summit County, home of the Dew Tour and several Rev Tour stops, roughly 800 up-and-coming ski club athletes are reminding pros what it’s like to ride for the fun.
At the same time, moguls are making a comeback. Team Summit’s freeski director, former moguls pro Chris Carson, says the scene is strong after a brief hibernation when ski slope and halfpipe exploded. With 32 kids, the club program is now the largest it’s been in years.
Before the season begins, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with three potential superstars from Team Summit.
Jason Tilley, Team Summit moguls
Last season was a banner year for Jason Tilley. After four seasons with Team Summit, the 15-year-old moguls skier placed well enough in the U-15 division to earn a spot at the U.S. Freestyle Championships, where he took 35th out of nearly 100 competitors — and he was by far the youngest.
Tilley, a football player in the off-season, looks to continue his success on skis this year. And, his sights are set even higher: With a few podiums (and a bit of luck), he’ll earn a spot on the Nor Am tour and start drawing attention from national team coaches. But first comes the U.S. Selections at Winter Park in early December. He’ll be ready.
First skiing memory: I have been skiing since before I can remember, but I have always had a good time doing it and never remember a dull moment.
First competition memory: At my first moguls competition, I remember getting in the gate and only having a massive smile on my face because there were no expectations and I could do what I love — ski.
Ski club highlight so far: I had many highlights in the 2014-15 season, but I think competing at U.S. Freestyle Championships on such a big stage and then placing 35th (was the highlight), along with being the youngest competitor there.
My biggest goal this season is…: I look forward to improving my mogul skiing in general and also landing some more major aerials, with the goal of throwing a cork 10 in competition.
Favorite slope for training: I love training at Breck because that has been my home mountain since I first got on skis, and many of my successes as a skier have come from programs that have been on that mountain, such as Bombers. It also offers such a massive area to train, with five mountains, one of the best parks in the world and killer mogul runs, like The Burn.
Favorite place to ski when I’m not competing: I like to ski with my friends and do things to push our limits that our couches may not let me because they are “unnecessarily dangerous.”
My alpine skiing hero: My hero would have to be Jeremy Bloom. This is because he is such a well-rounded athlete, from being an NFL football player to having an undefeated skiing World Cup season.
When I’m not on the snow…: During my off-season, I play football for the Summit Tigers.
Pre-race meal: Usually, the morning of the competition, my mom makes me breakfast burritos. It has kinda become a tradition.
Pump-up music: I don’t usually listen to music when I ski, so before a run I have my coach tell me some joke because I ski my best when I’m happy and relaxed.
Grifen Moller, Team Summit big mountain freeski
The big-mountain skiing scene keeps growing every season and Grifen Moller will be right at the forefront. For three years, the Eagle County resident has made the trek over Vail Pass to train with Team Summit’s big-mountain coach, BLAH. The program is one of the best in the nation, thanks in no small part to incredible training ground at Breckenridge and A-Basin.
Last season, Moller finished third overall in North America and second against U.S. competitors, which qualified him for a coveted spot on the U.S. team for Freeride Junior World Championships in Andorra this January. He’s one of just six freeskiers on the team, and at 17 years old, he has plenty of cliffs and chutes left to slay — not to mention the 15-18 age division.
First skiing memory: I do not remember my first time skiing because I was 2 years old, but it was at Mount Holly in Michigan. There must’ve been something inside of me that liked it because I am still doing it today.
First competition memory: I first started competing in moguls when I was about 10. It was really, really fun!
Ski club highlight so far: Last year was my best year I’ve ever had competing. I finished third overall in North America and second in the U.S. That qualified me for the Freeride Junior World Champs in Andorra this January, where I will be representing America along with six other athletes who made it.
My biggest goal this season is…: Well, I have a bunch of tiny goals that are going to help me reach my main goal of finishing first overall for the whole IFSA (International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association) tour.
Favorite slope for training: A-Basin.
Favorite place to ski when I’m not competing: A-Basin. A-Basin has the best terrain for everything, whether it’s freeskiing or training.
My alpine skiing hero: I have two people who I look up to and who influence me because they are two different styles of skiing. The first is Seth Morrison, and the second is Sean Pettit.
When I’m not on the snow…: Soccer.
Pre-race meal: Last year, I ate Marshmallow Mateys before every comp, and it seemed to work out pretty well.
Pre-run ritual: I always put my pants on before my boots.
Pump-up music: A$AP Rocky, Eminem and Rob Bailey. But I never compete with music in.
Blake Moller, Team Summit snowboard halfpipe
Like his older brother, 15-year-old Blake Moller makes the trip from the Vail area to Summit County for winter training with Team Summit. Unlike his brother, his weapon of choice is a snowboard, and the first-year club member is ready to dominate the 14-15 age division once more.
Last season, the younger Moller won USASA Junior Nationals for his age group and made final for the Rev Tour as one of the youngest competitors in the field. His sights are now set on making Junior Worlds, which comes with a potential spot on the U.S. Snowboarding team. Watch for him in the pipe and on the slopestyle course, but be sure to look just a little higher than you expect. He floats for days.
First snowboarding memory: I don’t remember the first time I went snowboarding, but I remember why I did it — because I loved to skateboard, and snowboarding was the next best thing.
First competition memory: I competed in all 5 USASA events, which is halfpipe, slopestyle, slalom, giant slalom and boardercross. It was the best thing I had ever done at the time!!
Ski club highlight so far: I won the entire USASA Nationals this past year, got second in halfpipe and made finals as one of the youngest in Rev Tour.
My biggest goal this season is…: To make Junior Worlds!!
Favorite slope for training: Breckenridge.
Favorite place to ride when I’m not competing: Copper or Breckenridge. They have good logs.
My snowboarding hero: Danny Davis, Taylor Gold, Ben Ferguson.
When I’m not on the snow…: Soccer!!
Pre-race meal: I don’t have one.
Pre-run ritual: I tighten my bindings as tight as they can go!!
Pump-up music: Eminem, Drake, A$AP Rocky, but I don’t listen to music when I snowboard.
Secret (or not-so-secret) tuning tip: If I need to, I will sharpen my edges, but I always wax.
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