With nationals just around the corner, the Sun Valley Snowboard Team is bringing out its best for the final regular-season competitions.
Last weekend, program director Andy Gilbert brought nine riders to Jackson Hole (Wyo.) for the Revolution Tour, a national slopestyle, boardercross and halfpipe event.
Gilbert also invited a few B-Team riders like Kaitlin Farrington who have been dominating regional meets, giving them a taste of a larger venue.
Farrington, 15, proved more than capable of competing on both a national level and for the Sun Valley A-Team. At Jackson, she took third place overall in the female slopestyle, "against some of the best in the country," Gilbert said.
After the events, Farrington also triumphed in an impromptu rail-jam on the Smith Limo in front of the Mangy Moose. For her first-place finish, she received $100 in prize money. "There is no better word to describe her than 'gnarly,'" said Gilbert.
On the guys side, A-team riders Austen Butler and Jens Peterson provided strong overall showings for Sun Valley as the two finished third, fourth in the men's halfpipe. It was a Sun Valley sweep in the J1 age group as Butler, Peterson and Sidney Parkhill took first, second, third in the division.
In slopestyle, Gilbert feels some of his guys were cheated out of better results due to questionable judging. Austen Butler had the highest finish at sixth, but Gilbert contends that riders such as Michael Kunz were robbed of points despite masterful rail proficiency.
"We have some very technical rail riders and Michael Kunz is one of the best rail riders to come through the team...and I don't think those guys were getting judged as high as they deserved for how hard their tricks were," he said. "But such are subjective sports like ours," he added.
Still, Gilbert was satisfied that his guys were riding "at the top of their game," and following Butler's lead as the high school junior threw 900s on the course's final jump.
Junior rider Heather Black was injured during practice, fracturing vertebrae, but Gilbert says her prognosis is good, even for upcoming Nationals in Lake Tahoe.
Gilbert is taking an astounding 23 riders to National Championships on March 25 to Northstar in Lake Tahoe:
A-Team: Austen Butler (HP), Scott Fairfax (SS), Jens Peterson (SS/HP), Sidney Parkhill (HP/BX), Jeremy Black (HP/SS), Michael Ralphy Kunz (SS). B-Team: Thorin Dickey (BX), Kenny Ballou (HP), Scott Pike (HP/SS/BX), Peter Driscoll (BX), Wyatt Bunce (BX), Kaitlyn Farrington (HP/SS/BX), Katie Fiaschetti (HP/SS/BX), Heather Black (HP/BX), Colton Jones (HP/SS). C-Travel: Cary Reinemann (SL/GS), Chase Josey (SL/GS/HP/SS/BX), Rusty Williams (SL/GS), Bill Rheinschild (SL), Austin Cruz (BX), Mattie Fostvedt (SL), Hayden Burdge (BX), Gavin Admire (BX).