Local skier Jeff Ashton received some exciting news last week. The 17 year old was notified by the Junior Freeride World Tour that his competition results from last year had qualified him for the 2016 Freeride Junior World Championships. The championships will be held at the Grandvalira Resort in Andorra (a tiny country between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains) on January 26-30.
“I am unbelievably excited as I will be one of only four Canadian male athletes attending this event and will be one of only about 40 of the best athletes from around the globe competing for the first place title,” said Ashton. Ashton won’t have very far to travel to the competition as he is currently residing in France as part of a one year Rotary student exchange.
Ashton has been skiing competitively for the last five years, participating in about 35 Freeski competitions. He has qualified for the IFSA North American Championships the last three years in a row.
Ashton joined the Red Mountain Freeski Academy in 2010 where he went to school two days a week and trained on snow for the other five days during the ski season. After doing this for four years, he switched over the Whitewater Freeski team for the 2015 season. “My last year has been my most successful yet as I ended up with a few top 5 results in both national and regional competitions and at the end of the season ended up ranked 12th out of 332 athletes in North America and in the top 3 in Canada,” said Ashton.
Ashton is very appreciative of those who have sponsored hime over the years including LINE SKIS, Mallards Source For Sports, FULL TILT BOOTS, Gerick Sports, Outdoor Tech, and Stohke.
Freeski/freeride is becoming increasingly popular as a competitive sport, with numbers growing each year. The judged event takes skiers over steep terrain, cliffs and rocks.
Competitors are judged on five different criteria:
1- Line Choice: Each competitor chooses his/her line or route down the course. High scores are given for choosing difficult routes. Difficulty is determined by steepness, exposure, air, snow and course conditions;
2- Control: Competitors must remain in control at all times;
3-Fluidity: continuity, pace, and smooth transitions between sections of the course;
4- Technique: Competitors are judged on style and turn quality relating to big mountain free-riding;
5- Style and energy: the pace, energy and creativity with which a competitor attacks or descends his/her chosen line or route. Style focuses on freestyle execution of maneuvers.