Keeping up with Western’s big mountain team in Canada

Students compete at Revelstroke

Jeremy Wallace/Staff Writer

Western State Colorado University snowboarder Zach Bare flies over coach Edward Dujardin on a road gap at Whitewater Ski Resort during a trip to compete in a freeride world qualifier event January 9th.

Ski bags and backpacks are tossed frantically in the back of a black rental SUV at Western’s Mountaineer Fieldhouse as night approached on Thursday, Jan. 5, as the departure to Revelstroke, British Columbia was fast approaching. However, the snow in Crested Butte delayed the team, and they ended up leaving two days later.

The team is traveling to the first four-star competition of the season for the Freeride World Qualifiers. A crew of high caliber athletes including Grifen Moller, Zachary Bare, Kat Seibert, and coach Edward Dujardin, go to represent Western in Canada. Their first stop is Nelson, B.C., a quick 20-hour car ride away. Fueled by caffeine and corny pop music, the team pushes on through the night, headed North to the land of maple syrup and hockey.

The sun greets the team on the outskirts of Missoula, Montana the next day, and a few hours later they are crossing the Canadian border. As afternoon rolls around, they pull into the mountain town of Nelson, B.C., and begin a crazed search for wi-fi, Canadian currency, poutine, and housing for the night.  The next three days are spent exploring the impressive terrain of local Whitewater Ski Resort where the crew practices airs, cliff drops, and prepares for the approaching competition.  

Western State Colorado University big mountain skier Grifen Moller airs off a boulder at Whitewater Ski Resort during a trip to compete in a freeride world qualifier event January 8th.

After day three at Whitewater, it’s finally time to travel to Revelstoke. The team once again packs the rental car full of skis and bags and sets out on the road. After a few hours and a ferry ride across Upper Arrow Lake, they arrive in Nelson, B.C., and make an important stop at Tim Hortons. A few T-Ho’s donuts and a healthy amount of stereotypical Canadian jokes later, they check in at their Airbnb with friendly frozen-yogurt-enthusiast hosts. From here on, competition lines are the sole focus.

The next morning brings overcast skies and a skin-numbing -22°C (-8°F) on the mountain. The day is set aside for course inspection- athletes are granted access to the venue in order to size-up features and plan out their qualifying run. Coach Ed talks through runs with each athlete, giving his input and recommendations for line choice. The day ends with registration and an athlete dinner, as well as anticipation for qualifying runs the next day.

As the sun kissed the peaks of the Selkirk Mountains the next day, athletes were already loading the gondola at the base of the resort. The qualifiers kick off with snowboarding, where Western athlete Zach Bare makes a strong run and secures his spot in finals the following day. Next up is Women’s skiing- Kat Seibert skis strongly, but does not make the cut for finals.

“I could’ve done a little better in my qualifying run, but better luck next time at the Crested Butte Comp,” said Seibert after her run.

Freshman Grifen Moller is the last Western athlete to compete, and scores highly for his control and confidence throughout the run.

Western State Colorado University big mountain athletes Grifen Moller and Zach Bare pose with coach Edward Dujardin after receiving second place in men’s skiing and snowboarding at a 4 star freeride world qualifier event in Revelstoke, British Columbia January 21st.

The last day of competition. It’s finals day. High performing skiers from all over stack the start list on the morning of Jan. 12. A different venue in the North Bowl of the resort is selected for today’s competitors, speckled with cliff bands, big drops, and tight trees. Spectators gather to watch big lines put down by strong skiers. Zach Bare competes first, dropping in with confidence and strength, and nails down a solid finals run. Grifen Moller completes his final run later in the day, stomping a big air and technical line. That evening energy fills the air as athletes fill the resort plaza for awards. Cheers, high-fives, and smiles abound as both Bare and Moller are welcomed up to the podium, claiming second place in men’s snowboarding a skiing respectively.

“It was pretty exciting, everyone did really well in that finals run and I was happy to come out with second,” said Bare, holding his wood trophy and prize money.

Reveling in the excitement from awards and seeing old friends in the freeride circuit, the team celebrates with the other athletes and returns back home to their basement Air B&B for the final night in Revelstoke. The next morning, bags are yet again stuffed carefully in the rental, and the long drive back to Gunnison begins as the Canadian anthem plays loudly over the stereo speakers.