By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – A dream realized, 17-year-old Big Sky snowboarder Isaac Singer will compete in the Freeride Junior World Championships in Austria this winter after earning himself a ranking as No. 1 in the U.S. Northern Region for the 2021 season.
The Freeride Junior World Championships invites the world’s best 65 young skiers and snowboarders from 18 nations to compete against one another on an international stage, according to the tour’s management organization, each year taking place at a premiere resort with exceptionally challenging slopes.
Isaac had a successful 2021 season competing on the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation Freeride Team, according to his coach, Drew DeWolf, in which he was the overall point leader in the U.S. Northern Region.
His competition wins during the season earned him his No. 1 rank with 1,841 points, according to International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association, as well as a spot competing in the world tour in Kappl, Austria, on Jan. 26-29, 2022.
“Ever since the age of 12 or 13 I’ve been working really hard to try to qualify for this tour,” Isaac said. “So to work for years and years to get there it’s a really special thing for me.”
After moving to Big Sky from Minneapolis, Isaac started snowboarding when he was 8 years old, joined the freeride team when he was 12 and competed in his first competition.
As part of his commitment to his freeride career, Isaac opted to switch to an online high school for his senior year after attending Lone Peak High School for three years. The flexibility of the online curriculum has allowed Isaac the ability to train when he needs to, according to his mom, Jill Singer. Isaac is very disciplined and the switch to online school has been a good fit Jill said.
Leading up to the world championships in Austria, Isaac is riding with DeWolf three to four times a week, practicing visual assessment of lines and rehabbing his hip which he injured last fall in a football game.
“He’s the type of kid that when he sets a goal, he’s going to get it,” Jill said of her son.
Isaac has made a lot of progress since he originally began training with the BSSEF Freeride Team, according to DeWolf, and he has done it all with a smile on his face.
“He’s always the kid who’s out there smiling and having a good time no matter what the conditions are,” DeWolf said. “You can just tell that he loves [snowboarding.] It definitely has gotten him to where you want it to be just having a positive attitude and always working towards his goals, whether it was the result he wanted or not.”
DeWolf and Isaac first met when he joined the team and they have recently, in the past couple of years, made a tight bond.
“He’s a super rambunctious kid, just loves being outside [and] loves snowboarding,” DeWolf said. “That was apparent from day one that his heart was just in it. So, I think we bonded over that right away. It’s just been a whirlwind ever since.”
DeWolf has been working with Isaac for years now, helping to hone his raw talent into a well-polished skillset.
“It’s really awesome to have a coach like that, who’s got your back at all times and you know that if you’re having issues or if there’s a certain trick you want to try to do or a certain line you want to try to ride at a competition, it’s really nice to have someone to be by your side that whole time,” Isaac said.
When Isaac first started competing, DeWolf says he liked to hit the biggest cliffs that he could, often resulting in a fall that negatively impacted his line score.
A line score is based on five criteria defined by the IFSA: line choice, control, fluidity, technique, and style and energy. DeWolf said higher scores are generally given to athletes who can link up more features that are smaller in a way that flows well.
Isaac’s training has really come together, according to DeWolf, and he is now able to focus on building his line score in a way that showcases his abilities.
Headed into the competition in Austria, Isaac will have to adjust and learn a new way of building his line because of the different rules governing freeride competitions in Europe, according to DeWolf. In Kappl, athletes will only be allowed to visually inspect the venue, an adjustment for American skiers and riders who usually get a chance to ski or ride the venue as part of their inspection. Isaac and DeWolf have been training for this adjustment. Isaac has also never ridden in Europe before.
“I’m gonna have to try to take it all in at the same time that I’m trying to mentally prepare for a competition with a ton of other great athletes,” he said.
To help give Isaac time to ride the new mountain, Isaac, his 14-year-old brother, Elijah, and DeWolf will arrive in Europe four days ahead of the competition. Isaac’s parents will follow to watch the actual competition.
Now that Isaac has reached the world stage, he’s looking forward to taking his freeride career to the next level. Next year, once he is 18, Isaac will be able to compete against adults and he said his goal is to qualify for the professional tour and see how far he can take it.