3 Steamboat freeski athletes take on exclusive North American Championships
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle skier Mary McLarnon’s first goal this season was to qualify for the International Freeskier and Snowboarders Association North American Championships.
Her second goal was to qualify for the finals.
“If I do that, I’m happy with whatever happens after that,” McLarnon said.
Along with McLarnon, SSWSC’s Ellie Reynolds and Skylar Davison qualified to compete in the event that invites less than 10% of IFSA athletes from around North America.
“To receive an invite, it was a big uphill battle for them,” said freeski big mountain coach Matti Hill. “To get enough points, they only have six competitions to do that in, with four of those counting. Consistent podiums through the year is how you get your invite.”
This year’s NorAm championships event was at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in British Columbia, Canada. According to Hill, the mountain did not get nearly as much snow as Steamboat had this winter, which made for a rocky terrain at the venue.
McLarnon and Davison opened with their qualifying runs on April 6 in the 12-14 age division. Davison took a direct technical line down the mountain but crashed in her crux move and was unable to finish the run.
McLarnon strung together an incredible run, hitting massive air toward the bottom of the course, which placed her in second place going into the finals. She had achieved her biggest goal for the season.
“Usually bigger airs I do a lot better because I do not have a chance to get scared about it,” McLarnon said. ” I know that I have to have a certain amount of speed and do a certain something for it to go well. I had that one air at the bottom and everything up until that I knew I had to stay strong.”
Reaching the finals on April 8, McLarnon had another strong run for a combined score of 63.7 points but dropped back to sixth overall in a very tight final.
“Mary missed the top five by 0.04 points and missed first place by 0.2,” Hill said. “Everyone really showed up on finals day to just go as hard as possible.”
Reynolds competed in a different zone for the 15-18 age division. This zone was more challenging and called for precise skiing and confidence in flight.
At 15, this was Reynolds’ first year competing in the age division, which put more pressure on her, but Hill said she continues to prove how strong of an athlete she is in any age group.
Reynolds had a strong run on April 7, but her 29.1 score placed her in 13th, one spot shy of the cut line for the finals.
The event closed out the IFSA season circuit with McLarnon finishing 13th overall on the year in the 12-14 age division, and Davison was not far behind in 19th. Reynolds took 11th overall in the 15-18 age division.
Next year, both McLarnon and Davison will join Reynolds at the next level. Hill is excited to see their growth in the coming years and says their accomplishments this season have been incredible.
“I would not say I need to be proud of them because they are just so proud of themselves,” Hill said.
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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