Vermont brothers join CB locals to rule U.S. Freeskiing Championships |

Vermont brothers join CB locals to rule U.S. Freeskiing Championships

MOUNT CRESTED BUTTE – Under capricious skies that veered from bluebird to blizzard in Crested Butte ski area’s daunting Spellbound Bowl on Sunday, it was two brothers from Vermont and an aggressive cadre of Butte skiers who stole the show.

Sunday’s final round at the 20th annual U.S. Freeskiing Championships saw athletes throwing 55-foot frontflips, floaty backflips and charging hard in more than a foot of fresh snow.

Men’s winner Lars Chickering-Ayers, 23, of Vermont’s Mad River Glen kept the tricks to a minimum but cruised to victory with an aggressive line and fluid skiing that has put him on the top of freeskiing podiums for the last two years. Crested Butte’s Tom Runcie took second after qualifying Saturday in Crested Butte’s scary-steep Staircase with unwavering control and strength. Chickering-Ayers’ younger brother, Silas, 18, took third with high scores for control, fluidity and style.

Angel Collinson of Snowbird won the women’s division with solid control and a very aggressive line selection in Spellbound. Winter Park’s Emiko Torito was second, followed by Ashley Maxfield of Utah’s Alta.

Longtime Crested Butte skier Mike Preston decisively won the master’s division, unseating perennial champion Scott Kennett, who took third. Crested Butte ski school instructor Aaron Lypps was second in the master’s division.

And a massive 55-foot frontflip in Spellbound delivered the coveted “Sick Bird” award to Crested Butte ripper Gabe Robbins. He was one of five Crested Butte skiers who finished in the top 15 in the men’s division, joining the top two masters and CB native Francesca Pavillard in the women’s division in defending their home hill’s reputation as a breeding ground for steep skiers.

“The legends are still throwing down in Crested Butte,” said the freeskiiing world tour’s longtime head judge Jim Jack, who competed in Crested Butte Extremes Championships almost two decades ago.

Even though freeskiing has begun to gravitate toward high-flying tricks, the standard stop-and-drop technique that defines a Crested Butte skier remains at the core of the sport.

“This is where it all began,” Jack said. “Freeskiing is evolving . . . but this kind of terrain still has its place. Steep, technical and sometimes unforgiving.”

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