By Scottie Williams Explore Big Sky Contributor
Known as southwest Montana’s powder secret, Lost Trail Powder Mountain turned into freerider heaven on Feb. 22, as skiers and snowboarders gathered for the third annual Coldsmoke Freeride Competition.
With the mountain’s chairlifts operating only Thursday through Sunday, snowstorms pile up, untouched during the week. The days leading up to the competition were no exception. More than three feet of snow accumulated during the week, and event directors Andrew Schultz and R.J. Higgins took advantage of the snowfall by closing Saturday’s venue, the North Face area.
Some Lost Trail powder hounds chasing Thursday’s dream turns were disappointed about the closure, as the day began with 24-plus inches of new snow. Even so, not one track was poached through the area, leaving the venue truly untouched.
Almost 100 competitors of all ages went head-to-head in a best-of-two-run format, including 6-year-old competitors who tore down the double-black diamond face, making picture perfect turns in powder up to their necks. The day was made up of eight different divisions from the 12-and-under “groms,” to the 40-and-up “fossil” class.
River Lucas, a Lost Trail native now living and skiing in Salt Lake, won the 18-and-up skiing division. The fifth skier to enter the venue Saturday, Lucas made sure he showed everyone how deep it was, making his way down the steep part of the face into The Pinnacle area, dropping 30 feet into fluff. Keeping his speed into the jump zone, he finished that first run with a floated backflip.
This sort of impressive skiing early in the day including large inverts and crashes lent insight to how deep the snow was, and the rest of the competitors held nothing back. Backflip shenanigans became the name of the game. Many skiers and snowboarders threw themselves halfway down the face without care of landing on their feet, and more than a few rotated 2 1/2 times, landing on their heads in a splash of powder and pushing themselves up with a smile.
Youngster Kaden Almond showed everyone he knew his home mountain in the 17-and-under class. Almond tore down the North Face chutes without hesitation, staying composed coming into the jump zone where he sent the only clean double backflip of the day. Many thought Almond might have won the 18-and-over division had he chosen to compete with the big boys.
After a successful third annual competition, a fourth will likely happen next winter.