Ian McLean (8th grader Los Alamos Middle School) and Andrea Krejci, head coach TWST freeride team, examine photos of the course venue. Several features are off limit so athletes from out of the area don’t have an opportunity to preview the course. Visual inspection of the course along with photos are the only tools athletes have to create their line. Line choice is a significant judging criteria. Courtesy photo.
Ian McLean at the top of the venue preparing for his qualification run. Ian earned a top five finish in the qualification round. Photo by Andrea Krejci.
BY PAULA KNEPPER
Seven TWST athletes in the 12-14 and 15-18 age categories competed at the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association (IFSA) National Tour. Several TWST athletes made their debut on the national level competitions.
TWST athletes threw down at the IFSA Jr. national event held in Copper, CO from February 7-10, 2023. Stolle Wannamaker, Ian McLean, Grey Elsasser, and Dusty Elsasser competed on February 7th in the 12-14 age category. Over 200 athletes competed in the qualification round, but only a small fraction would qualify for the finals. Corrina Harrower, Andre Ortega, and Quentin Rebholtz competed in the 15-18 age category on February 8, 2023. Ski and snowboard athletes from across the nation went out strong in order to secure their positions for the final round.
Athletes are scored on line choice, control, fluidity, technique, and style and energy by three judges. Unlike alpine ski racing, judging is not measured by a clock, judges are subjectively scoring competitors based on one run through a defined venue on steep terrain, with significant exposure, and variable snow and environmental conditions. Athletes must maintain control throughout the run and demonstrate technique, continuity, energy, pace, and maneuvers including jumps and drops.
Stolle Wannamaker, Ian McLean Dusty Elsasser, Corrina Harrower, Andre Ortega, and Quentin Rebholtz made the cut into this elusive group moving into the final round held on February 10, 2023, which was postponed by one day because of weather and safety concerns.
Andrea Krejci said, “We had a couple of athletes who had never competed in a national competition, so we were not sure what our expectations should be; however, after having six out of seven athletes qualify for finals, we can say we are a force to be reckoned with. This might have been the strongest showing TWST freeride has ever had in a national competition.”
Athletes were greeted at finals with fresh snow and a fresh venue. Stolle Wannamaker stomped her run. Dusty Elsasser put down a couple of big, and controlled airs and finished his line off with a big tree jump. Unfortunately, Ian McLean and Corrina Harrower both crashed on their final run, taking them out of contention. Andre Ortega and Quentin Rebholtz went out big with strong final runs. Quentin throwing a huge “floaty 3” above a no fall zone, unfortunately with a smaller control issue after landing, but it still moved him up to 20th place. Andre showed off his specialty of skiing one of the fastest and biggest lines. His last air being the tree gap was so big he almost crashed, but was able to hold on.
TWST athletes (from left) Quentin Rebholtz, Dusty Elsasser, Andre Ortega, Grey Elsasser, Ian McLean, Corrina Harrower, and Stolle Wannamaker take a minute to pose at the bottom of the competition venue. Photo by Andrea Krejci.
Dusty Elsasser earns the 3rd place spot in a congested and contested field of 12-14 male athletes at the IFSA Jr National Competition at Copper Mountain. Courtesy photo
On the following day, several TWST athletes competed at the IFSA Jr. regional event hosted at Copper Mountain including Stolle Wannamaker, Seamus Campbell, Dusty Elsasser, Grey Elsasser, Lili Hart, Andre Ortega and Corrina Harrower. TWST athletes were supported by TWST freeride head coach Andrea Krejci and coach Reed Pieper. Stolle Wannamaker came out with an extra dose of enthusiasm and took the 2nd place step on the podium for girls 12-14 category. Grey Elsasser finished in 6th place for the boys 12-14 age category. Corrina Harrower had a great run finishing in 7th place for the girls 15-18 age category.
Stolle Wannamaker displaying her trophy and favorite Salomon skis on the 2nd step of the podium at the IFSA Jr Regional at Copper Mountain on February 11, 2023. Photo courtesy of Andrea Krejci.
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. TWST is proud to call Taos Ski Valley their home mountain.
For more information about TWST see http://www.taoswintersportsteam.com/