Last year, Chauncey Sorenson spent most of his winter in the Lower 48 competing in slopestyle snowboarding events.
This winter, a lack of funds kept Sorenson home in Juneau working at a pizza parlor, so he jumped at the chance to compete when Eaglecrest Ski Area decided to host its 'Adios, El Niño' slopestyle ski and snowboard competition on Sunday. Sorenson was able to put his experience competing in the Lower 48 to use, dominating the inaugural slopestyle event at Eaglecrest.
Sorenson, 24, posted the top score on each run, with 131.5 points on the first run and a 142.5 on the second run to win the overall title and claim the age 19-older men's snowboarding division. The only other person to break 125 points on a run was men's age 15-17 skier Cody Heppner, who had a 128.0 on the first run and 125.0 on the second run to take second place overall.
The next two finishers overall were age 13-14 skier Owen Kelley, who had a 122.0 first run and 123.5 second run, and age 19-older snowboarder Parley Styles, who had a 123.5 first run and 122.0 second run.
"I've been snowboarding for about 12 years and skiing for going on 15 years," Sorenson said. "Within the last three or four years I've been focussing more on park-style snowboarding. Last year I spent going to competitions, like the Vegetate at Mount Hood (Oregon) or the Vans Triple Crown (at Tahoe, Calif.). I wasn't able to make it out this year due to funds."
This weekend's competition featured the first handrails ever installed at Eaglecrest's freestyle park for slopestyle events, plus there were two jumps - with different take-off areas for advanced and beginning competitors. Sorenson said judges rated the skiers and snowboarders on style, technical ability and amplitude (big air and aggressive moves), awarding points for each run.
"Last week, me, Mark Schulz and Steve Baxter put the rails up," Sorenson said. "We were working to try and get a terrain like what you'd find at a bigger resort, where pretty much you'd find a vast amount of rails. We wanted to get something the kids could practice on and we got Eaglecrest to spend about $500 for the rails."
Sorenson said the rails can be set up in different positions, with the one on the left being a more expert line than the one on the right. He said they're modeled after handrails and feature 1x3-inch square bar across the top. The course had two different jumps - the first with a 15-foot gap and the second having two take-off points so there's a 30- to 35-foot gap for the experts and a 5-foot gap for beginners.
"I would like to see that become an annual competition," Sorenson said. "If we get enough of the kids doing it, maybe we can get it sanctioned and the kids can use it to go on to nationals. The talent pool up here is amazingly large and the kids are more driven here than they are at other resorts I've been to."
In other news, two 12-year-old skiers from Juneau took first and second place at the King of the Rail freestyle skiing competition on March 22 at Whistler, British Columbia, beating other skiers who were in their 20s.
Will Geiger of Juneau used a 270-to-rail slide (a three-quarter spin while riding the rail) to win the competition, while Jesse West of Juneau took second place with his big trick being a switch-butter-to-rail slide (starting off with one shoulder being aimed downhill and spinning so the other shoulder becomes the downhill shoulder).
'Adios, El Niño' Slopestyle Competition at Eaglecrest
Results from the 'Adios, El Niño' Slopestyle Ski and Snowboard Competition held Sunday at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Competitors are listed with their first-run points and second-run points. The competitors were ranked based on their best scores.
Male skiers, age 13-14 - 1. Owen Kelley, 122.0 points first run, 123.5; 2. Kanaan Bausler, 112.0, 118.5; 3. Zach Heppner, 93.5, 114.0; 4. Elliott Pillifant, 86.0, 94.5.
Male skiers, age 15-17 - 1. Cody Heppner, 128.0, 125.0; 2. Gabe Kelley, 111.0, 120.0; 3. Blake Snyder, 102.0, 98.5.
Female snowboarders, age 19-older - 1. Megan Williams, 109.0, 115.0; 2. Christy Baseden, 93.5, 94.0.
Female (ski or snowboard not listed), adult - 1. Mary Grayson, 111.5, 114.5.
Male snowboarders, age 12-13 - 1. Brian Evans, 114.0, 118.0; 2. Jason Cochran, 101.5, 97.0; 3. Dylan Listberger, 88.0, 92.5.
Male snowboarders, age 14-17 - 1. James Brown, 122.5, 119.0; 2. Ryan Stidolph, 116.5, 113.0; 3. Aaron Castle, 108.0, 113.5; 4. Kevin Elliott, 106.0, 107.5.
Male snowboarders, age 19-older - 1. Chauncey Sorenson, 131.5, 142.5; 2. Parley Styles, 123.5, 122.0; 3. Paul Labell, 122.0, 120.0; 4. Courtney Webster, 104.5, 105.5.