Junior Freeskiing Tour to swing through Squaw Valley | SierraSun.com

Junior Freeskiing Tour to swing through Squaw Valley

Jason Dobbs
Special to the Sun

Photo by Alenka VrecekTahoe local Tilen Lane skied a flowing, creative line on Crystal Mountain's Northway Bowl en route to a 14th-place finish on the opening stop of the Junior Freeskiing Tour. The tour stops by Squaw Valley from March 9-11.

The Junior Freeskiing Tour and#8212; an offshoot of the Freeskiing World Tour and#8212; will make its first-ever appearance in North Lake Tahoe this weekend when Squaw Valley hosts the second stop of the series.

If last week’s sensational initial stage at Crystal Mountain, Wash., was any indication, the March 9-11 competition showcasing the skills of the nation’s top under-18 big-mountain freeskiers will be an exciting event for athletes and spectators alike.

Local athletes were well represented at Crystal Mountain, with Zabie Elmgren of Squaw Valley winning the 15-17-year-old girls’ division. The 12-14 boys from North Tahoe teams fared particularly well, with five skiers finishing in the top 10 amidst an impressively stacked field of junior athletes who traveled from eight Western States and Canada.

Jonathon Reuter, skiing out of Kirkwood, came up victorious while Elmgren’s teammate, Chase Whitney, finished second and Blake Lawton of the Sugar Bowl Freeride Team was third and Squaw’s Ross Tester was fourth. Whitney was also honored with the Free Mountain Award, which rewards the athlete who combines leadership on and off the slopes by demonstrating athleticism and model sportsmanship.

Among the older boys, the Faye brothers of Squaw Valley greased aggressive and flowy lines down Crystal’s steep Northway Bowl on their way to strong finishes.

The athletes are eager to come off a strong season-opening performance, returning to a home-field advantage in what promises to be the highest-caliber youth freeskiing event ever held in North Tahoe. Spectators are encouraged to come out and support these future freeskiing stars, as they demonstrate skills in selecting creative lines, and execute technical skiing through challenging terrain using a combination of high speed and aerial maneuvers on terrain such as steeps, chutes and cliffs.

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The nascent Junior Freeskiing Tour (JFT) is providing a platform for the world’s best to develop their skills as they prepare for the professional circuit. JFT athletes receive elite coaching, with local coaching rosters including legends like Eric DesLauriers and current World Tour competitor Kevin O’Meara. Programs at Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl and Alpine Meadows lead the charge, teaching young skiers how to safely navigate through extreme terrain, often performing new-school tricks on big airs off natural features.

The Squaw Valley stop of the Junior Freeskiing Tour is scheduled on Cornice II Bowl, with Sunday’s finals on Granite Chief Peak. The all-mountain rippers, ages 12-17, will pull out all the stops on their home turf to fight their way to accumulate points toward the five-stop tour and#8212; with future events taking place this year in Grand Targhee, Wyo., Crested Butte, Colo., and Snowbird, Utah).

Athletes are coached and judged on five categories: line score, control, fluidity, technique and style/energy. Find results and information about the three-day competition at http://www.jrfreeskiing.com.