Junior free skiers descend on Red Mountain this week as they prepare to hit their line for the 11th annual free-skiing competition.

Junior free skiers descend on Red Mountain this week as they prepare to hit their line for the 11th annual free-skiing competition.

Free skiers set to soar at Rossland’s Red Mountain

11th annual edition of skiing competition begins with juniors

Red Mountain is hosting its 11th annual free-skiing competition this week, as the juniors take to the hill for the national free-skiing series.

In partnership with the International Free Skiers Association (IFSA), about 150-junior competitors will hit Red’s Link’s Line and Papoose Bowl for two-days of qualification before going to the finals on Saturday.

“The event has been around for a long time, over 10 years now, and it’s great to see it gain traction in the community,” said Mika Hakkola, Red’s marketing and communications manager. “We are actually the only British Columbia stop on the junior national event series.”

While registration and training goes today, the real drama starts Thursday when the seven to eleven year olds and the 12- to 14-year-old skiers choose their line and start their tricks and jumps at 8:30 a.m. The 15 to 18 year olds ski their qualifying runs on Friday with all finals starting Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Local junior athletes include Sally Stevens and Jay Maloney in the 15-to 18-year-old category and Simon Hillis will compete in the seven to 11 year olds.

In the past, the number of competitors was limited to 100 skiers but organizers have expanded the number of qualifying days from one to two, to accommodate more skiers.

“It’s growing and we are acknowledging it by opening up the doors a little bit more so more athletes can come out to compete,” said Hakkola.

The competition is based on cumulative points total where skiers are judged on their choice of line, control, technique, fluidity and aggression.

The juniors compete for points on the international circuit which includes some of the best free skiers in Canada and the U.S.

While snow has been scarce of late, cooler conditions has kept the snow intact and the Red Mountain team has taken precautions to ensure a great event.

“It (the snow) is good, we’ve actually shut the (free-skiing) course down for a couple days. The idea is to have some preservation there in terms of the snow quality for the athletes that will be skiing it, so that it is safe and a little bit softer  than some might expect,” said Hakkola.

The IFSA was established in 1996 with the idea to enhance the sport of competitive big mountain free skiing by creating guidelines to ensure credible and consistent competition around North America.

The seniors free-skiing competition starts next week with $10,000 in prize money up for grabs for the competitors.