Taos Winter Sports Big Mountain Team Competes At Wolf Creek

TWST Big Mountain Team athletes pose in the fresh snow early Saturday morning in Wolf Creek. Courtesy photo.

Taos Winter Sports Team


The Taos Winter Sports Team (TWST) traveled to their first International Free Skiers Association (IFSA) event of the season in Wolf Creek on Saturday January 21, 2023. Over 100 athletes competed on either skis or snowboards in U12 (athletes 10-11 years of age) and 12-14 age divisions.

It was an early start for the competitors with an 8 a.m. lift load. The venue start was perched on top of Alberta Peak, a 30-minute trek from the top of Treasure lift. Since TWST emphasizes hiking in the Big Mountain program, the 20 TWST athletes crushed the long uphill hike while carrying their skis, even in the negative wind chill. Wolf Creek received 66” of snow in the week leading up to the event, with 12” falling the day prior. 

Ian McLean launches the final cliff band. Courtesy photo.

The venue started with wide open bowl skiing, a cliff band in the middle, and concluded with steep open skiing and an abrupt compression prior to the finish corral. The snow above the steep cliff band didn’t hold well. With so much new snow it was surprisingly to see grass. Some athletes elected to simply showcase their aggressive Taos style, and it paid off.

Lauren Mueller (top right) celebrates her 1st place finish.  Courtesy photo.

First up, were the U12 girls. Larka Schultz placed third in her first ever competition. Lauren Mueller (6th grader Chamisa Elementary School) skied a very fast and direct route, and her aggressive style earned her the top spot on the podium!

U12 boys Cale Baryza and Weston Munson competed next. It was Weston’s first comp. Weston Munson skied well, but went outside of the competition boundary which led to a “no score.” Cale Baryza skied with fluidity and purpose earning him a 3rd place finish. 

Next at the start were the girls age 12-14. TWST athletes included Stolle Wannamaker, Maisy Barrett, Pippa Barrett, Zoe Munson, Tei-Murata-Long, Neve Rebholtz, Ava Wannamaker, and Kiana Swim. Neve finished in 4th, Ava in 3rd, and Kiana in 2nd. All the girls skied strong from top to bottom navigating variable snow and sticking to their lines. 

TWST 12-14 ski male competitors included Hank Scanlon, Bastion Ludwig, Maximo Johnson, Seamus Campbell, Grey Elsasser, Liam Kastrin, Ian McLean, and Dusty Elsasser. TWST athletes earned two of the top five finishes with Ian McLean in 4th and Dusty Elsasser in 2nd. Again, fourth place and first place were separated by just .66. 

Dusty Elsasser in 2nd place and Ian McLean (8th grade Los Alamos Middle School) in 4th place earned their spots in the top five of the 12-14 male skiing competition. Courtesy photo

TWST athletes showed up in a big way with 8 podiums. This was the first ever event at Wolf Creek with teams from Crested Butte, Monarch, Durango, Breckenridge, Pagosa, and Taos attending. It was a cold one, but TWST athletes absolutely crushed it. 

TWST is a non-profit 501(c)(3) that was established in 1976 dedicated to providing opportunities for athletes to become great skiers and pursue personal goals. TWST promotes the development of good sportsmanship, healthy competitiveness, sound technical skills, and a reverence for the ethos of the mountains.  For more information about TWST see http://www.taoswintersportsteam.com

Proud to call Taos Ski Valley our home mountain!