Winter Sports Club athletes start strong at freestyle competition opener

Ben Ingersoll
Vail's Tess Johnson gets up for a back lay on Saturday during her opening run of the Ski Town USA Freestyle competition. Johnson won the women's side.
Ben Ingersoll

— When it was all said and done after roughly six hours of competition on Steamboat Ski Area’s Voo Doo moguls course, it was chalked up as a successful opening day of the Ski Town USA Freestyle competition for Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes.

All but one Winter Sports Club-trained skier advanced from the morning trials to the afternoon finals during the singles moguls event. Even so, there is a ton to work on starting with Sunday’s singles moguls event, Club Freestyle Director Bobby Aldighieri said.

“Everyone is improving, but our goal is to go in the right direction more quickly and more efficiently,” Aldighieri said. “I think we’ve got to continue to pursue it and not be complacent. That’s the big thing for me.”

On the men’s side, Australia’s Jim Matheson used a huge finals run to move up two spots from the trials to barely grab first in the Ski Town USA Freestyle opener. Vail’s Hunter Bailey was first after one run but slipped to second, less than one point behind Matheson. Jannick Fjeldsoe stormed all the way back from 15th to take bronze in the men’s overall standings.

Winter Sports Club’s Zach Rosa, Max Bernard, Landon Wendler, Ben Hoefer and Bridger Boyd all advanced to the men’s finals, a group comprised mostly of high school freshman-level athletes giving the Voo Doo crowd a taste of what’s to come in local freestyle.

“It was a good day team-wise for sure,” Aldighieri said. “It was great. I think that we’re making progress. If you kind of look from the young kids like Landon Wendler right through our top girls, it’s really good. In that ability group, that high school group, we have a ton of potential in those guys.”

On the women’s side, Steamboat’s Avital Shimko and Jaelin Kauf paced all local athletes in the event opener. Shimko finished in third behind Vail’s Tess Johnson in first and less than a point behind Telluride’s Kealey Zaumseil in second.

Kauf had an opening run she’d like to have back, stumbling on a mid-course bump that threw her into a course flag. The slipup dropped her all the way to 22nd heading into the finals, just one slot from even making the second-round cut. But she rebounded nicely in her second go at it, taking fifth overall.

Winter Sports Club’s Lindsay Mustard was also in the top 10 on Saturday, finishing in ninth place.

“We aren’t so much skiing for places,” Aldighieri said afterward. “We’re skiing for the process. If you take care of the process the results will take care of themselves.”

The skiers will be back at Voo Doo on Sunday for another 10 a.m. singles moguls start. The Ski Town USA Freestyle competition will conclude on Monday with a dual moguls event, also at 10 a.m.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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