ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - For the second straight year the Alyeska Freeride Classic was held in Girdwood, and featured Freeride skiers and snowboarders ages 10-18. Freeriding is different than the traditional slopestyle or freestyle events you’re used to seeing on TV.
Kai Coleman skiing South Face during the 2019 Alyeska Freeride Classic. (Courtesy: Connor Michael)
“I tell them Freeride is like Big Mountain: Choose what you want,” said Mcquade Ellis, who won the 15-18 boys' skiing category.
Athletes choose difficult routes down Alyeska’s south face, nearly 1,000 vertical feet, and are judged on their control, fluidity, technique, style and energy.
“They have free reign to ski from the top to the bottom,” said Alex Else, the event’s technical director.
Else is a former freeride skier at Alyeska, and said the group has been on and off in the past. Right now it seems to be thriving, attracting 50-70 kids the past two years.
“For me seeing the youngsters just kill it, super advanced for their age-- I think it’s great,” said Else.
This competition is a part of the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association (IFSA) and contributes to the athletes' overall ranking in North America. The IFSA has more than 200 events in North America every year, featuring junior collegiate and pro series.
“My first comp I start here, and then after that, it takes off to February to go down to the lower 48 do a bunch of comps in Washington,” said Ellis.
Many of these junior skiers will spend their winter traveling North America participating in similar events looking to gain points, and win the Freeride junior tour. Currently, Homer’s Davey Baird snowboards on the Freeride World Tour, and is a considered a professional, competing all over the world.