Chilliwack’s Jesse Howden flipped, turned and jumped his way to second place at a North American skiing competition in Lake Tahoe, CA.
The International Free Skiers and Boarders Association (IFSA) North American Junior Freeride Championships were held April 5-9 on the snowy slopes of the Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
Freeride is a sport in which skiers ski down an enclosed course, performing as many eye-popping tricks (gnarly in the Freeride lexicon) and technical maneuvers as they can.
To qualify for the year-end event, Howden had to rank inside the top 50 on a list of 300 North American athletes, which he accomplished with four solid showings at IFSA events.
The teenager finished 16th at Red Mountain (Rossland, B.C.), second at Crystal Mountain (Washington State), 11th at Mt. Baker (Washington State) and sixth at Whistler.
Day one of the Lake Tahoe event had Howden inspecting the course and planning his route down a run called ‘The Cirque,’ which is permanently closed to the public. He did two runs and impressed the judges enough to qualify for the final.
The competition was delayed for three days after that due to a bad snow storm that brought two feet of the white stuff, high winds and low visibility. But Howden woke up to sunshine on the last day.
Howden had just one run to work with and made the most of it. He put down some great turns, grabbed big air off cliffs, pulled off a huge 360 and executed a perfect move off the last huge feature on the course, bringing wild cheering from the crowd.
His score of 39.767 was slightly behind the winnning number (40.433) posted by Jon Patterson of the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team.
Howden comes out of the competition ranked No. 1 in Canada and he’s in good shape to qualify for next year’s world junior championships in Andorra.