TETON VILLAGE, Wyo. — This weekend, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Toilet Bowl was the site of the 10th Annual Junior International Freeskiers Association (IFSA) Regional competition.
The spirit of freeride was in full force this weekend, as competitors from all over the mountain west, ages 8 to 18 took on the firm chalky snow conditions of Toilet Bowl and Tower 3 to impress the judges with their best line through the steep and technical terrain. An exceptionally large field made event coordinators divide skiers and riders into two days of qualifiers. On Friday, competitors aged 15 through 18 took to Paintbrush and Toilet Bowl. Competitors aged 12 and under as well as 12 through 14-year-olds took to the same venue on Saturday. Tower 3 was the site of Sunday’s finals. Skiers and riders were judged on their best line, based on control, fluidity, technique, and style/energy. Their final score was a result of the combined scores from the finals and qualifier runs.
A solid crowd was in attendance, cheering and ringing their cowbells as junior freeriding was pushed to a new level, and the team spirit and competitor’s camaraderie were not to be missed. The host club, Jackson Hole Ski Club’s (JHSC) Freeride Program led by program director Andy Lex, and coaches Collin Rehm, Matt Newton, Elsa Smith, Hunter Piggott and Toby Koekkoek boasted a series of top finishes. On the snowboard side, JHSC athletes rounded out the podium with Ellis Swain, Ace Emery and Noah Robertson finishing one, two and three in the 12-14 division. The 12 through 14-year-old skiers also found success, as local ripper (coached by Toby Koekkoek) Ashe Bessette took top honors, with Taz McBride and female JHSC athlete Tia DesLauries also grabbing third-place finishes.
The 15-18-year-old boys put on a show and reminded the crowd that Jackson Hole is a mecca and breeding ground for big mountain freeride skiing. Going into the finals day JHSC skier Nate Pruzan was in first followed by Cooper Watson of the Grand Targhee Ski and Snowboard Foundation (GTSFF), and Jackson local Owen Smith whose runs offered big airs and stylish 360s. On finals day, both Smith and Pruzan were on their way to podium runs, but couldn’t ski out of their final 360s. It was Jackson local and JHMR Evolution Team skier, Declan Brewer who wowed the judges and crowd with the biggest air of the day and finished fourth, behind Bridger Ski Foundation and Big Sky Freeride competitors Erik Steckmest. Hayes Livernois grabbed third and second-place finishes. GTSSF skier, Cooper Watson took home the weekend’s top honors in the 15-18 ski male division with two runs featuring huge airs and clean 360s.
The IFSA Junior Freeride Regional Competition is also a time to honor the late Bryce Newcomb, an integral part of the Jackson Hole ski community who embodied the spirit of freeride and passed away following a ski accident in Cody Bowl in 2018. Event founder and Technical Director and close friend of Newcomb Rob Lapier wanted to come up with an award to acknowledge someone that embodied that happy-go-lucky mentality that “we all remember of Bryce.”
“The award felt like such a fitting way to share the message that its not all about winning, and that finding meaning in the process is the real treasure.”Rob Lapier
This year Andy Lex of the JHSC Freeride Program worked closely with Bryce’s father Robin, to create a custom cowbell and a pair of Atomic skis for the winner.
“Jack Killmain is the perfect fit for this year’s award. He can be such a goofball and his energy is contagious, just like Bryce. While Jack didn’t make the finals, he found a line that, in all 10 years of these competitions, had never been skied. As Bryce would say, Kilmain was SENDING!!” said Rob LaPier.
Congratulations to all competitors in this weekend’s IFSA Junior Freeride Regional competition.