Steamboat’s Billeisen wins gold on home turf at 2023 U.S. Freestyle Junior National Championships
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club moguls skier Peyton Billeisen is a master at making adjustments mid-run.
The club hosted the U.S. Freestyle Junior National Championships at Steamboat Resort on Saturday, March 18, where Billeisen earned a spot in the super final of the men’s U19 dual moguls event.
During the final run, Billeisen found himself in a tight race down the hill with Jack Petrone of Killington Mountain School in Vermont.
On the second jump, Billeisen completed his flip as low to the ground as possible to get back on his skis and earn a speed advantage in his final score. The strategy paid off for Billeisen, who became a Junior National Champion with the win.
“For me, it’s kind of like a safety mechanism,” Billeisen said. “It’s a lot easier to know that I can do that off the second jump so I can take a lot more speed into it. It’s a lot easier to land than going straight up and coming straight down to the flat.”
Steamboat Springs athletes found themselves on the podium all week long with Billeisen also taking second in moguls on Thursday, March 16, Anabel Ayad earning bronze in both events and U17 Abby McLarnon winning Thursday’s moguls event as well.
Sam Tarrant, SSWSC’s freestyle program director, said it was incredible to see his athletes make big strides at a home event of such magnitude.
“Just to host the event was awesome, but then to see the hard work that your athletes put in and then it happens here and clicks and they’re able to ski to their potential at their home event on this big of a stage is super fun and rewarding,” Tarrant said.
Ayad said both the red and blue courses were difficult on Saturday, but neither was harder than the other.
The course conditions started out beautiful for qualifying earlier in the week but the cold turned what was once slush into ice.
“It’s fun when it’s that soft but then it froze overnight and today and yesterday it has been super icy which is fine, but if you get out of control you’re in trouble,” Ayad said. “Everybody deals with the same course, which makes it fair.”
Ayad and Billeisen’s seasons are not over yet. Ayad will be heading to the U.S. Freestyle National Championship at Waterville Valley Resort in Vermont starting Wednesday, March 22. Billeisen will fly to Europe to compete at the Freestyle Junior World Championships in Valmalenco, Italy starting Thursday, March 23.
The two agreed their performances at junior nationals were huge confidence boosts, but the bigger competitions lie just ahead.
“It’s a good way to train for nationals which is important,” Ayad said. “I’m excited and I feel prepared.”
To reach Tom Skulski, call 970-871-4240, email tskulski@SteamboatPilot.com.
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