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Big Sky freeride athletes shine at Beartooth Basin

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By Doug Hare EBS Staff

BIG SKY – Now in its second year, the Summer Shredfest is a four-day ski and snowboarding festival, this year running from June 14-17, which celebrates mountain community, culture and competition at the only summer-specific ski area in North America—Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area.

Beartooth Basin is located in the Shoshone National Forest near the top of the Beartooth Pass, a section of U.S. Route 212 south of Red Lodge, Montana, and just over the Wyoming border. At nearly 11,000 feet in elevation, the region typically cannot be reached by car until Memorial Day weekend, when snowplows dig through the highway’s towering walls of snow. Some years, depending on snowpack, the lifts don’t spin at all.

Served by two high-speed Poma lifts, Twin Lakes Headwall provides 600 acres of skiing terrain that approaches 50 degrees, offers 1000 feet of vertical drop, and usually boasts a massive cornice for skiers and riders to launch off of.

With support from the Mountain Rider’s Alliance, the second annual Summer Shredfest included inspirational ShredX talks, a whiskey tasting festival, an IFSA junior freeride competition, an IFSA 2 Star Freeride World Qualifier event, and North America’s only summer skiing demo day. Technically, these summer competitions kick off the 2019 season in Region 2.

“Once again, we battled through adverse weather conditions on Beartooth Pass in June. The junior event was completed after being delayed two days by a significant storm,” said Pete Manka, a former Big Sky Ski Education Foundation freeride coach who also judged the junior event. “We made it through the first three categories of the FWQ event, before a three-day storm forced a cancellation of the male skier division.

“The Summer Shredfest is an awesome week-long celebration of competitive big mountain riding mountain culture,” Manka added.

Many Big Sky Ski Education Foundation athletes found a spot on the podium during competition. Preston Smith came in second in the U12 Male Skier division, while his older brother Andrew Smith won his division for U14 Male Skier. Isaac Singer placed third in the U14 Male Snowboarder division, and Riley Belle Becker won her division—U18 Female Skier—with room to spare.

After dominating the junior Freeride World Tour circuit for years, Holden Samuels made his debut in FWQ competition with this event, and did not disappoint. Samuels took home the first place prize for Male Snowboard, and looks forward to qualifying for 4 Star FWT events in his future.

“The [competition] was moved up a day because they knew there was weather coming into the pass. … The only time I had ridden the whole month before was the inspection run that morning,” Samuels said. “But the snow ended up being pretty soft, and I am glad I got to go before the blizzard rolled in.”

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