Conditions were prime at Snow King Mountain on Thursday afternoon.
The sun rose above Josie’s Ridge, but the snow stayed firm for the slopestyle competition in the U.S. Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association National Championships. The good conditions allowed the resort to fine-tune the park.
“The course today has gotten 10 times better than what it was yesterday,” University of Vermont coach Cottie Gorham said. “They put in a new rail and made the jumps more lippy, so these guys can perform the way they should perform.”
Though they were enamored with the sunny views from the top of the mountain, competitors said the jumps at the beginning of the week were not ideal, which isn’t surprising given that Snow King rarely has a park the caliber of the one currently running down Lower Grizzly. But the competition organizers were able to lend their expertise to dial in the features.
“The last couple days,” USCSA President Adam Stark said, “our executive director, Alec [Tandara-Kuhns], was able to hop in the cat with the mountain and make it a really cool event.”
The skiers who took the course Thursday stepped up to the task, spinning off the top rails and launching the series of jumps in the middle. Sierra Nevada College took the top spot in the men’s slopestyle, with Andrew Eells taking first, Milan Peyrin third and Cole Lyon fifth. Vermont’s Zach Masi rounded out the podium in second.
On the women’s side of the slopestyle contest, Sierra Nevada College took four of the top five spots to dominate the competition. The school also took the women’s ski slalom race earlier in the day, while Westminster College won both the men’s and women’s snowboard slalom races.
Though the sun had poked its head onto the slopes by the afternoon, morning shade the past couple of days made for ideal racing conditions, both in Thursday’s slalom and the boardercross races earlier in the week.
“The boardercross course was amazing,” George Mason University snowboarder John Friedersdorf said Thursday. “The conditions today for slalom were beautiful.”
The national championship continues Friday at Snow King with men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle and men’s slalom skiing. A full schedule is at USCSA.com.
Nordic skiers, who had an off day Thursday, will be back in action at Trail Creek Nordic Center on Friday, with the men’s and women’s 15-kilometer races. Just as the racers and freestyle athletes at Snow King were amazed by the views and steep terrain at the competition venue, the Nordic competitors have been impressed with the quality of both the landscape and the track at Trail Creek, Stark said.
“The athletes are loving it; there’s elk and moose wandering around,” he said. “I’m hearing from our coaches and athletes about how much fun they’re having here.”