A trio of freeskiers with the Telluride Ski & Snowboard Club (TSSC) will compete in the North American big mountain championships next week in British Columbia.
Chloe Hehir, Lily Young and Elijah Blakney of the TSSC all qualified for the prestigious 2019 North American Junior Freeride Championships, starting Tuesday at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort at Golden, British Columbia.
The competition, featuring the best junior freeskiers from the United States and Canada, will run through April 14 at the resort known for its expanse of steep terrain.
“They have been crushing it this year,” said TSSC freeride coach Ryan Van Nuys. “These three kids have the innate ability to step up when its competition time.”
Van Nuys, a former international freeski competition and longtime coach in Summit County, is in his first season leading the Telluride Ski & Snowboard freeskiers.
He said the skiers could encounter spring conditions or winter snow at Kicking Horse.
“Kicking Horse is a top-tier resort in North American for steep skiing,” he said. “It’s like Telluride … a tall mountain.”
Chloe Hehir, 14, leads the Telluride contingent into Canada. She was rated No. 1 in her 12-14 age division in combined Canadian/American standings for half of the season. She enters the North American Championships ranked 12th.
Hehir won the Junior Regional event at Crested Butte this season. She was fourth in the Snowbird Junior Nationals and fourth in the Taos Junior Nationals.
Hehir also finished fourth in the hometown Telluride Junior Regionals.
“Chloe is somebody who can look at the hardest line and she doesn’t freak out,” Van Nuys said. “She started out super strong and she’s been super consistent this year.”
Lily Young, 15, has been ranked in the top 20 in the tough 15-18 age division.
She enters the North American Championships ranked 26th as one of the youngest to qualify in the category..
Young was second in the Breckenridge Junior Regional event and fourth at the Taos Junior National competition. She also finished fourth at Crested Butte. And she was ninth at the Snowbird Junior National contest.
“She’s in a pretty stacked field in (North America),” Van Nuys said.
Elijah Blakney, 14, is ranked No. 21 heading into the North American Championships. He’s a first-year freeski competitor for the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club.
“He’s come on pretty strong at the end of the season,” Van Nuys said of Blakney. “He’s been involved with the club for awhile (competing in freeski for the first season). He’s got strong skiing parents who help him along.”
He finished fourth at the Taos Junior National and Crested Butte Junior National events. He was third in Breckenridge.
Van Nuys said the competition at Kicking Horse will help open the Telluride skiers’ eyes to what is out there in terms of big mountain events.
Invitations to the World Junior Freeride Championships, sanctioned by the International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association, will be on the line.
A community-based fundraising drive is under way to assist the Telluride skiers for their trip to Canada.