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Big Mountain Team Sweeps the Podium
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Claire Buchwalter shows off her first-place medal.
   
Sunday, February 11, 2024
 

STORY BY LIZ CHAMBERLAIN

PHOTOS BY COLLIN COLLINS

The Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Big Mountain Team returned from their second stop on the IFSA Junior Series dressed in metal and coated in praise from the freeride community.

The team walked away from last weekend in Snowbird with 10 podium finishes and countless others rounding out the Top 5 as athletes made major leaps amidst unfavorable weather conditions.

 
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Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation’s Big Mountain Team relishes their podium finish.
 

Athletes battled flat light and low snow conditions on a course that featured exposed rock faces and dynamic terrain–the perfect recipe for an exciting, yet challenging competition. 

Landing first-place finishes were Hank Greener, Claire Buchwalter and Alex Leahy.

Head Coach Banks Gilberti said he and the rest of the coaching staff left Utah feeling extremely proud of the team.

“For me, one of the biggest takeaways from this trip was our crew’s sheer love for skiing and the sport of freeride as well as the incredible sportsmanship and support our athletes showed to each other throughout the competition weekend,” he added. 

The podiums are a singular outcome of the massive input of time and energy put into training both on and off the mountain over the past few months. Compared to larger resorts in the West that tend to breed freeride athletes, Sun Valley may not be known for its “gnarly” off-piste terrain.

However, the steeps on Baldy are steep and the bumps are deep. There is something to be said for those capable of skiing 3,000-plus feet of vertical relief in one run. 

“We expect our athletes to have strong fundamentals and we constantly focus on developing and improving on them day to day,” said Gilberti. “We hold these kids to a high standard, but we always leave room for freeskiing with friends and family.”

Last weekend’s competition proved the team is capable of competing at a regional and national level despite the adverse snow conditions Baldy has been dealt this season. Turns out a 41-inch base (recently transformed into 69 inches) is all you need to succeed. 

The team heads to Red Mountain Resort in British Columbia to compete in the next stop of the IFSA Junior Regional Qualifiers. IFSA is the sanctioning body for freeriding events.

RESULTS

VOLUME 1 (Day 1)

U19 Ski Men:

1st -Alex Leahy

2nd – Abel Marx

3rd – Reyn Gary 

4th – Breck Lyon 

U19 Ski Women:

3rd – Scarlett Carruth 

4th – Addie Warden 

U15 Ski Men:

4th – Hank Greener 

5th – Kobi Bilbro 

6th – Jude Carter 

VOLUME 2 (Day 2) 

U19 Ski Men:

2nd – Zack Torres

3rd – Alex Leahy 

5th – Reyn Gary 

U19 Ski Women:

1st – Claire Buchwalter 

2nd – Ripley Scales 

4th – Tess Lightner

5th – Madda Mourier-Floyd 

U15 Ski Men:

1st – Hank Greener

U15 Ski Women:

2nd – Skyler Jensen 

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