WP Big Mountain Team heads to Whistler Blackcomb
The Winter Park Big Mountain Team will compete in the 2016 IFSA North American Junior Freeride Championships on April 6-9 at Whistler Blackcomb. The top 160 athletes from big mountain teams across the U.S. and Canada will be competing based on national and regional rankings.
The big mountain program is fairly new, but many of the kids have been skiing together for years. Finn Mahoney has been skiing with much of the team for 6 to 8 years and has enjoyed watching everyone develop into contenders at such a high level.
“We are only a two-day team competing against mostly five-day teams,” said Mahoney.
This means most teams get to practice four or five days a week while the Winter Park team only has two since most of the kids live in Denver or other parts of the state and are in school Monday-Friday
Oakley Bookless is one of the few full-time Grand County residents on the team and has progressed significantly through the big mountain program. He started out as a park and mogul skier before joining the big mountain team three years ago. Bookless competes in the 12-14 age group with plans of making the World Tour in the future. He currently sits 4th in the region going into championships. Another Grand County resident to watch out for is Casey Myers, also in the 12-14 division.
The team consists of twelve seniors; six of which made it into championships. They will lose some talent at the end of this year, but the program continues to grow stronger producing top big mountain athletes.
“We’ve all been skiing together and spending basically the entire winter together for years,” said senior Morgan Westfall.
“This year everyone has been killing it and it’s been fun to watch how much we’ve all improved since we first joined the team.”
She thanks the coaches for the progression of the big mountain program. The program is fairly new to Winter Park, and many kids go into it with little or no competition experience on the unique terrain used for these venues.
Coach Rachel Croft has competed in the adult freeride tour and hopes to see her athletes there some day.
“The freeride family is an amazing group of people spread throughout the world,” said Croft.
“And that’s what I’m most excited for these kids to become a part of.”
Last year the Winter Park Big Mountain ski team had eight competitors in the championships making it the program with the most athletes represented.
Winter Park Competitors”
Mia Farley, Stacy Gaskill, Adam Redling, Seth Mossman, Mikey Tuck
Oakley Bookless, Finn Mahoney, Morgan Westfall, Bobby Eckles, Casey Myers, Jillian Lukez, Connor Townsend, Ryan Tagawa, Zach Kasica
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Winter Park Resort announced an adjustment to the reservation system for pass holders that will allow guests to ski after 2 p.m.