Palisades Tahoe athlete earns podium finish at Freeride Junior World Championships |

Palisades Tahoe athlete earns podium finish at Freeride Junior World Championships

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — Three Palisades Tahoe snowboard athletes recently qualified for, and competed in the Freeride Junior World Championships Jan. 23-26 in Kappl, Austria and one earned a podium finish.

Kaiya Hanepen, 18, earned third place as the Palisades team has competed in the event for eight years.

Riders from around the world vied to become the Junior Freeride World Champion across four categories of competition: Women’s Ski, Men’s Ski, Women’s Snowboard, and Men’s Snowboard. 

In order to hold the title of Junior Freeride World Champion, competitors were evaluated by a panel of seasoned freeride judges and scored across five main criteria: fluidity, control, line choice, technique, as well as air and style. Before the competition, athletes were allowed a visual inspection of the course only—no physical ride through or practice lines are allowed. The course was complete with a starting and finishing gate, but no further work was done to prepare the mountain. It was up to the competitors to pick their line and what features on the mountain they chose to face.

Aside from Hanepen, Palisades was also represented by Mia Jones, 18, and Sam Briggs, 17.

Invitations to the FJWC were based on high standings from last year’s North American Freeride Series. Before the FJWC, the athletes competed in a pre-championship event called the ARC 1950 Freeride World Tour Junior, where Hanepen took first place and Briggs grabbed second.

It was the third time Hanepen competed in the FJWC and the first for Briggs and Jones.

The resort’s past FJWC podium finishes in the Men’s Snowboarding event include: Dylan Zellers, first place; Jesse Aves, first place; Andrew Kraatz, third place; Adrian Babet, third place; Tilden Wooley, second place; and most recently, Tavo Sadeg won first place at the 2022 FJWC.

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