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Freeriders shred Sugar Bowl to open season

Sugar Bowl skier Anders Leckie sends it at the first stop of the Tahoe Junior Freeride Series.
Provided/Tania Pilkinton, Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy Director of Admissions, Marketing & Communication

NORDEN, Calif. — The Tahoe Junior Freeride Series opened its season last weekend at Sugar Bowl Ski Resort, bringing more than 250 skiers and riders from around the region to compete on the mountain’s iconic Disney Nose run.

The 12-14 age group opened the first of two days of competition on Saturday at Sugar Bowl as youngsters made their way down the cliff-riddled run seeking to impress the panel of judges below with the their choice of line, control, fluidity, technique, and energy and style.

Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy skier Sebastian Baranchuk, eighth grade, defended home turf, tossing 360 in good for good measure to claim the season-opening win in the boys’ Group A division with a score of 34.53 points.



Teammate Angus Blackburn took second in the division with 33.3 points, and Team Palisades Tahoe skier Zebedee Schreiber was third with 33.2 points.

In Group B, Team Palisades Tahoe’s Quinn McInerney captured first place with a score of 34.61. Olympic Valley Freestyle and Freeride teammates Mack Winterberger and Mark Hart finished second and third, respectively.



In girls’ skiing, Team Palisades Tahoe picked up another win behind the performance of Alexandra Smith, who posted a score of 32.6. Sugar Bowl’s Luciana DiLuna impressed the judges with a big air near the top of the venue on the way to a second-place finish with 32.57 points. Teammate and rookie freerider Lily Cutler was third with 32.2 points.

The girls from Kirkwood stole the show in snowboarding as Simone McWherter took first place with a score of 29.2 points. Teammate Kate Winslow was runner-up with 29.03 points. Team Palisades Tahoe snowboarder Riley Ericksen was third with 26.6 points.

On the boys’ side, Team Palisades Tahoe’s Cass Jones took the win with 34.63 points. Competing as one of the younger riders in the division, Sugar Bowl’s Justin LaBar, 12, was second with 26.77 points. Team Palisades Tahoe’s Joshua Klein was third with 23.83 points.

Ski for Scotty

During Saturday evening’s award ceremony, collaborative efforts from the Scotty Lapp Foundation and Tahoe Freeride unveiled a new award for skiers and riders, celebrating the energy and spirit of fallen freerider Scotty Lapp, who passed away following a ski accident at Palisades Tahoe last season. Lapp was a sophomore at North Tahoe High School.

The award goes to the athlete that exemplifies Lapp’s riding style of pushing the limits of what’s possible while holding to a true “fun first” approach, according to event organizers. Sugar Bowl rookie freerider Cutlet was given the inaugural award.

Day 2: 15-18 age group takes center stage

The second day of competition brought ages 15-18 riders and skiers to Sugar Bowl.

The girls’ snowboard team from Team Palisades Tahoe put together a dominant performance, taking the top four places on the podium. Mia Jones led the way with a score of 34.03, followed by Ellery Manning in second with 31.33 points, Mollie Grange Isaacson in third place with 26.7 points, and Julia Bouligny in fourth with 25.33 points.

Team Palisades Tahoe continued its success on the boys’ side with Kai Davis snagging first place with 32.27 points. Teammate Sam Briggs was second with 31.33 points. Sugar Bowls James Stone was third with 31.30 points.

In skiing, Austin Picket took first place in the A Group for the Olympic Valley Freestyle and Freeride team, posting a score of 34.73. Sugar Bowls Cole Davidson took second behind the fastest run of the day and two big airs to score 34.6 points. Teammate Shea Markoff landed a pair of 360s to claim third place with 33.97 points.

In the B Group, Kirkwood’s Evan Kim claimed the win with 36.23 points. Sugar Bowl junior Alex Slezak was second with 36.2 points and Team Palisades Tahoe skier Jackson McAllister took third with 35.3 points.

On the girls’ side, Team Palisades Tahoe’s Indy Boyer took first with a score of 33.87 points, followed by teammate Miley Rahlves in second place with 31.53 points. Kirkwood’s Molly Adams rounded out the top-three finishers with 31.37 points.

The Tahoe Junior Freeride Series will head to Palisades Tahoe on Jan. 28-29 for the second stop of the four-event season.

Amy Lapp (left) presents Sugar Bowl rookie freerider Lily Cutler with a belt buckle in honor of her late son, Scotty Lapp.
Provided/Tania Pilkinton, Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy Director of Admissions, Marketing & Communication

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