Little Lucy tackles big mountains
Pouring down the face of a snow-covered mountain is something most folks who live and visit the high country dream about regularly.
For some people that means visions of bumps at Mary Jane, or cutting through a dense thicket of powder filled trees. For young Grand County resident Lucy Wettersten though it is about finding the steep stuff, and if she’s lucky maybe even a cliff or two. Lucy is only 10-years old but odds are she rides rougher terrain than you. The Fraser 4th grader may still be small but there’s nothing little about the big mountain ski competitions in which she competes.
“I like big mountain skiing because it challenges me at all types of skiing; steeps, alpine, moguls and air,” Lucy said. “I like going to competitions because they are like family adventures to go to new places.”
In early April Lucy and her family traveled north to Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Wyoming so the young lady could compete in the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association Big Mountain Junior Championships in the Under 12 Division. Lucy competed amongst a field of 10 top-tier skiers from throughout the nation with other competitors hailing from places like Vail, Squaw Valley, and Big Sky Montana.
For big mountain competitions competitors like Lucy are allowed a single inspection run down the mountain to pick out their lines before they begin their judged runs. During inspection runs the competitors must move relatively slowly and are not allowed to actually drop off any cliffs or mountain features.
According to Lucy’s mother, Dianne Wettersten, most of the big mountain competitions feature a qualifying run followed by two additional runs upon which skiers receive a final judgment. However the National Championships featured three competition runs and no qualifying runs.
“Typically they go to steeper ski areas,” said Dianne Wettersten. “It is not like they have a course set out. You pick your own course. You are judged on your line. The more difficult your line, the more points you get.” Wettersten explained judges also take control, technique, style and fluidity into consideration when judging.
The extreme terrain may seem daunting to weekend warriors and others who only occasionally get out on their skis but for Lucy, whose been skiing since she was two and charging down big mountains for years, its all manageable. Lucy’s mom Dianne credits much of her daughter’s skills on skis to Lucy’s 16-year-old brother Cole Wettersten. Cole competes in big mountain ski competitions as well and as Dianne explained, “he is her primary coach”.
Going into Nationals Lucy was ranked number two in the nation following a busy season of big mountain events in Colorado. She took home first place honors at the Breckenridge Go-Pro Challenge and also took first at another big mountain competition in Aspen, which prompted an invitation to the National Championships in Wyo.
She also took home a pair of second place finishes this season, one at Crested Butte and one at Winter Park. Lucy went home from Grand Targhee with a third place podium finish in the National Championships but was able to maintain her second place ranking nationally.
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Due to current public health guidance, there will not be an in-person wilderness campsite lottery for Rocky Mountain National Park this year.