By Scottie Williams Explore Big Sky Contributor
Skiers and snowboarders put on an incredible display of talent March 4-8 at the Subaru Freeride Series stop in Telluride, Colo. The competition took place at the tail end of a weeklong storm cycle that blanketed the San Juan Mountains. The weather was perfect and the competition venues were layered with fresh snow.
Athletes attacked Telluride’s Dihedral Face on Saturday where both the ladies and men impressed the judges. Using a blend of trickery and powerful skiing, athletes put forth their best efforts to improve their overall positions coming into Big Sky Resort’s championships March 25-29.
Jonathan Penfield stood on top of the podium with his snowboard for the second time this season after Saturday’s final. Squaw Valley, Calif.’s Connery Lundin took top honors in men’s skiing through both days of competition for a well-deserved first place and his first SFS win. Kaki Orr and Morgan McGlashon – both Jackson Hole Mountain Resort athletes – stood side by side on the ladies ski podium and veteran Camila Brown from Salt Lake City, Utah won the battle in the ladies snowboard category.
Snowboarder Chance Lenay, also a Big Sky Resort tram operator, took advantage of the rock-dodging abilities he’s refined over the years riding on Lone Mountain. Lenay began the finals in 10th place and soon found himself in the lead with only a handful of riders left. He finished the weekend in fourth place.
The Subaru Winterfest and Freeride Series will return to Big Sky with a qualifier held on March 26, giving 10 athletes from four divisions – men’s and women’s skiing and snowboarding – the opportunity to compete in the main events Friday and Saturday. Riders will battle it out for a $15,000 purse, and many of the athletes are in a close race to be crowned 2015 SFS North American champions.
In the men’s snowboarding category, Canadian Jonathan Penfield has already secured the championship title after two first-place finishes this year, and will be riding victory laps in Big Sky. Lenay has found himself in a close race to finish second place overall, and hopes to win his first event on his home mountain.
“The weak snowpack is a great opportunity for lines to be ridden differently and will spice up the competition a bit more,” Lenay said. He looks to stay confident during the two days of competition in hopes of making a run at the podium in Saturday’s finals.
Tecnica/Blizzard team athlete Lundin is returning to Big Sky for his third time with a “Sickbird” belt buckle from Snowbird, and a win in Telluride. Currently in first place, a podium finish should be enough to earn him the title of overall champion.
Lundin had a terrifying crash last season during the Big Sky event and says he has respect for the consistently steep, high-exposure, and challenging Headwaters venue. He says he plans on skiing smart, calculated lines, with a trick or two to try and secure the title.
Keep an eye out for local athletes Lenay and skier Dan Bartzick during the event.
Stillwater Bowl offers the best viewing during the weekend’s competition. Action will begin 10 a.m. Thursday and continues through Saturday, with a weather day scheduled for Sunday.