Quest for the best |

Quest for the best

All Star Snow Search showcases next freestyle generation

— Madeline Schaffrick is an old salt when it comes to navigating the waters of judged freestyle competition.

She’s made Sports Illustrated for Kids’ Next Snow Search national team the past three years and even was asked to judge an event.

Now, the 12-year-old snowboarder from Steamboat Springs has been invited back to showcase her skills in front of a home crowd for one of the Snow Search’s two marquee events.

The SI Kids Next Snow Search is a season-long national talent search designed to uncover the next generation of progressive skiers and snowboarders (ages 9 to 13) through 70 qualifying events and six Super Qualifier events.

But event creator and producer Jack Turner insists it is no kiddie show.

“I’m confident these are the best kids in North America for freeriding,” Turner said. “I guarantee you’re seeing the future X Games and Olympic athletes. They’ve been training hard – we’re talking 900s, 1080s, off-axis tricks.”

The fourth-annual search culminates with two competitions – an “All Stars” event Friday and Saturday at the Steamboat Ski Area, and the “Finals” from March 2 to 4 at Vermont’s Killington Resort.

NBC Sports will film this week’s “All Stars” event and plans to broadcast it from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 25.

“They’re really fun,” Schaffrick said about Snow Search competitions. “The best part’s where you get to compete with different abilities of people from all over the country and you see all the talent.”

The “All Stars” event will test kids’ all-mountain skills with slopestyle, halfpipe, skier/snowboardcross and big air competitions and will judge them using criteria of style, attitude and sportsmanship, as well as athletic skill.

The invitees had either a top finish at one of the Super Qualifiers or, like Schaffrick, had made one the SI Kids Next Snow Teams determined from the last two years’ national finals.

Of the 72 kids competing in the “All Star” event, six skiers and snowboarders will represent the Steamboat Ski Area – Schaffrick, Summer Smalley, Drew Dummit, Chapman Geer, Adrian Pougiales and Grant Murray. Harry Pettit also claims Steamboat as a hometown, but he will represent New Zealand.

The competition opens at 10 a.m. Friday with the slopestyle event at the Mavericks Terrain Park and a 1 p.m. superpipe event in the same location.

The skier/snowboardcross races start at 10 a.m. Saturday in the terrain park, and the events conclude at 6 p.m. with the Big Air, Fire & Snow Show on Headwall.

“The big air show’s going to be fun,” Turner said Wednesday as he groomed the massive Headwall jump for the competition. “It’s free, Cartoon Network’s going to be projecting a show on the landing, and there’ll be a laser show and fireworks.”

Sponsor exhibits and a snowskate park will be set up at the gondola base both days.

Visit for more information.

Volunteers still are needed for the event and should call Sandy at Steamboat’s Competition Services at 871-5387 or e-mail

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