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2021 IFSA Alyeska Jr. Freeride Classic

Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 8:18 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The 4th annual version of the 2021 International Free Skiers and Snowboarders Association Alyeska Jr. Freeride classic wrapped up today on the South Face out at Alyeska. Around 85 kids participated in this years event with 10 flying in from out of state. If you are new to what freeriding is in the skiing and snowboarding world, well it is really quite simple. 3 judges stand at the bottom of the mountain and judge the athletes on a number of different criteria.

“The judges judge the athletes on line, technique, fluidity, control and style they judge on those 5 things.” said Connor Micheal the head coach of the Alyeska Freeride team.

Your final score is cumulative over the two day event with only about 60% of the skiers making it to the final day.

“We saw some really impressive stuff and finals day” Micheal said, " It really picks up they are really chasing for the podium on finals day sometimes they ease a little back on qualifying day and them coming into finals day they really pick up their game.”

As for COVID-19 precautions, there were plenty including masks worn at all times, and the safety and award ceremony were both held virtually via Zoom. The event had a wide range of age groups from 10 years old all the way to 18 years old. All of the athletes split up into different age groups 12U, 12-14 and 15-18.

According to Morgan Haymans with the Alyeksa Freeride team, Clara Lantz won the Ski Female 15-18 age class and successfully defended her title from 2020. Lantz skied a similar line to what she executed on day one, skiing a smooth line through the Firstpoint section of South Face, followed by sending the Alder Cliff on Eagle Rock.

Benjamin Erickson won the Ski Male 15-18 age class, improving from his third-place finish on Day 1. Haymans said that Erickson gapped the chute in the Firstpoint section of South Face successfully stomping a huge send. Lower in his run, he took a large air off of the Alder Cliff on Eagle Rock.

Aidan McGinley of the Stevens’ Pass Freeride Team in Washington held on to his lead following the Day 1 qualifier to win the Snowboard Male 15-18 category. Haymans also said that McGinley once again displayed strong, controlled riding from top to bottom on the venue, showing great style on the features he hit.

When you watch the videos of these young athletes flying off the side of the mountains you can not help but to hope that they are safe, and according to Coach Micheal, they are more then prepared.

“A lot of this sport is about risk management. We teach these kids to do what they need to do. You might think they are doing something crazy that is going to hurt them, but they have practiced and they know exactly what they can do and what is in their ability level, and the biggest thing is teaching these kids how to ski within their ability level and that is where the competition comes in right! You are not going to go out there and ski something you’re not comfortable with and win. You need to go out there and ski something you know you can ski and that’s how you know you are going to do well.”

The Alyeska Freeride Team will be back in action for the IFSA Junior Regional March 4-6 at Crystal Mt., Washington.

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