A steep, long and burly mogul course on Telluride’s infamous Lower Plunge offered a stage for some of the sport’s most talented skiers, and not surprisingly it was the Telluride-bred skiers – those who practically grew up between the deep troughs and tall mounds that typify mogul skiing around here – that shone brightest over the weekend.
Of course, the spotlight was wide enough to include some non-Telluride superstars, as well, like NorAm Cup Grand Prix Champion Jeremy Cota (Steamboat Springs) and others who brought the Third Annual Telluride Divisional event to new heights.
“It was some of the best skiing there’s ever been on Lower Plunge,” attested Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club Head Freestyle Coach and longtime local mogulist Caleb Martin of the weekend event, which brought close to 100 skiers to Telluride’s slopes.
Telluride representatives Wade Parkinson, Zak Watkins, Lindsey Cannon and Lane Stoltzner all entered the home contest, toting a record of strong results from the following weekend’s NorAm Cup event in Canada, and all kept that winning momentum going into the Divisional final. Cannon and Stoltzner crowded the podium in second and third overall for the women on Friday, while Watkins and Parkinson stuck solid runs to also finish on the podium at second and third place, respectively.
“These kids, who’ve grown up on the Lower Plunge, really rose to the occasion on home turf,” Martin said of Telluride’s oldest competitors.
In the championships contest, Stoltzner hung in at the top 5 in fourth-overall for the women.
Younger Team Telluride mogulists also brought out the big guns for their hometown show, with Keaton McCargo knocking at the ladies’ top ten on both Friday and Saturday, finishing at an impressive twelfth and thirteenth overall (garnering first place in her F3 age division in both events). Ryan Parkinson crept onto the scene with a tenth-place finish Saturday, finishing third in his M2 age class. Nicholas Jones and Bridger Johnson, both M3s, also competed Saturday and finished mid-pack within the men’s very competitive field.
Sunday’s Duals event dawned not as successful as the previous days’ single mogul contests for Telluride, with Watkins coming up with the best finish of sixth place while the rest of the team was knocked out before or in the round of eight.
Last weekend’s event marked the completion of Divisional competition for Rocky Mountain Freestyle, and found Telluride rising to the top among the region’s teams. Telluride has won the Team Trophy in three mogul events this season, at Durango, Vail and again last weekend at home. (Team awards are determined based on team skiers’ average scores.) Telluride also took home the “Golden Buffalo” award for team spirit, for the second season in a row.
“I’m certainly proud of all these skiers,” Martin said of his athletes, noting that a steep course like the Lower Plunge necessitates a higher degree of skill in speed control and turn technique – “and that’s a place where Telluride skiers shine.”
The competitive season isn’t over for Telluride’s freestyle team, with a slew of upcoming events on the calendar this month. In two weeks, Stoltzner, McCargo, Ryan Parkinson and Cannon travel to Waterville Valley, New Hampshire for Junior Olympics events. The following weekend is the National Championships in Squaw Valley; qualified skiers have not yet been named for that event.
The Rocky Mountain Devo Championships takes place the weekend of March 15, in Winter Park; and this weekend Durango hosts the Southwest Mogul Tour’s Grand Finale.