Fresh off an appearance on the “Today Show,” young ripper Kai Jones posted the second-best score among the 93 competitors at Saturday and Sunday’s International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association junior regional.
Divisions from U12 to 15-18 were represented at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and the 12-year-old was one of the event’s big standouts. The skiing prodigy won the male 12-to-14 division with a two-day score of 63.83, including a Day 1 score of 33.06.
The only competitor to post a higher score than Jones was Charles Steele from Montana’s Bridger Bowl. Steele posted a score of 33.73 at Toilet Bowl on Saturday and came right back Sunday at Tower 3 to post a 33.63 to run away with the win the ski male 15-to-18 division.
Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard Club freeride program director Rob LaPier said Steele drew the most attention over the weekend.
“He really stole the show,” LaPier said. “It was two days of high-flying, fast-paced action and top-notch skiing. He just executed flawless technique in technical terrain. He really played with the mountain and wowed the judges.”
Jackson Hole and Teton Valley, Idaho, were well represented throughout the weekend. The Ski Club had an array of riders, as did the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Evolution Team and the Teton Valley Ski Education Foundation. Local wins were had by snowboarder Finn Varga in the male U12 division, Ryan Glick in the girls ski U12 division, Cooper Watson in the ski male U12 event and Morgan Kilmain in the girls ski 15-to-18 portion.
“Morgan has got a strong, fundamental alpine racing background,” LaPier said. “She was able to apply it and come out to this event and lay down two really smooth runs.”
Of the 93 competitors, 51 were from the Wydaho area.
“[The number] speaks volumes of our regional community that we’re able to have such a deep talent pool of young athletes,” LaPier said. “All the programs combined are working together to give these kids a strong support system and lots of opportunities to be involved in the snow sports culture.”
Two other Ski Club snowboarders impressed Saturday, although their overall results didn’t place them on the podium. Will Mercer and Steven Bailey both posted scores of 30-plus while competing on Toilet Bowl terrain Saturday. The duo’s run-one scores were higher than anyone else in the eight-rider field.
Next up for the freeriders is a stop over the hill at Grand Targhee Resort for the IFSA junior regional number two. The event will take place Feb. 9 and 10. One week after Targhee, Snow King will host the USASA Rail Jam on Feb. 15 and a USASA Boarder X event Feb. 16.