In early February, the Stratton Mountain School Freeski program embarked on its first out-of-state trip of the season as a team. The month-long trip began with ten days of training at Woodward Copper in Copper Mountain, Colorado, followed by a few days in Winter Park, as their first event, a Futures Tour stop in Winter Park, had been postponed until mid-March. Still, the team made the most of their time there by banking four additional training days.
“It was such a great time with the team,” said Freeski Program Director Jesse Mallis. “We had so much fun, and the boys all made considerable gains in their skiing. I was impressed with how the boys encouraged and motivated each other throughout the trip.”
After that, the team split up with some student-athletes heading back to SMS while eight others traveled to Colorado, for the Revolution Tour at the Aspen Snowmass Open. Many consider the Aspen Open venue to be the best of any domestic FIS event since it takes place on the X-Games Slopestyle course, and the boys got in a few good days of training before the competition started.
The Slopestyle event featured a stacked field of 60 men with several international competitors and World Cup athletes. Charlie Gnoza ’21 was our only athlete in the twelve-man final, finishing in 5th place, with teammates Kaylen Reiley ’22 and Bode Raffa ’22 finishing in 24th and 29th, respectively. In the Big Air event, SMS saw impressive finishes from Maximus Siudak ’22, who finished in 18th, Bode Raffa ’22 in 22nd, and Jai Hunter ’21 in 23rd.
The Team departed for Copper the following morning for a few days of training before the FIS National Championship Slopestyle at Copper Mountain on March 2nd. Once again, Gnoza asserted his dominance in a stacked field, finishing 6th despite a fall on his final run. Kaylen Reiley ’22 finished 27th, Durham Jones ’23 in 33rd, and Larson Diianni ’22 in 34th.
“Many of the boys cut their competitive skiing teeth at their first high-level FIS events, while others grabbed FIS points from the stacked fields in both Aspen and Copper,” commented Freeski Coach Liam Downey. “It was super cool to see eight SMS teammates stand side by side with some of the best freeskiers in the world.”
“Big shout-out goes to Charlie as well. He proved that he is capable of competing with some of the best this trip,” added Mallis. “We are super proud of his hard work and excited to see what he'll do next.”
The majority of the team has since returned to SMS and reported negative COVID-19 test results, marking yet another successful out-of-state competition trip for the Stratton Mountain School athletic programs.
The trip was a tremendous learning opportunity for everyone involved and coaches Liam Downey and Jesse Mallis appreciate all of the parental chaperones who helped make the journey possible!
Photos by Freeski Program Director, Jesse Mallis.