Saturday, August 21 saw the second stop in the 2021 Freebird Slopestyle Series. Thirty-one athletes in three categories took to the slopestyle course to throw down on some of Highland’s most iconic features.
Competition kicked off at 11am with the U14 class. The field had more than doubled in size since the first stop, with nine young riders flying their way through the course. Highland local Grady Payson was the first rider to drop in, setting the tone with a stylized run marked by a couple of fast one-footers and whips. 9-year-old Julian Voytilla stood out as the youngest competitor, still throwing a couple of toboggans and one-handers into the mix.
Left: Walden Bart
Right: Max Abrams
Simon Miller came within a point of unseating Hayes Livernois from the second place spot on his second run, but couldn’t quite push him out. Podium competition was steep: 14-year-old Finley Kirschenmann of Utah laid down an untouchable first run, tricking every feature and flipping the step-up. His victory run doubled as a party lap, with several of the Open Men’s competitors jumping in to throw some of their own tricks and give the spectators a taste of what was to come later in the afternoon.
Top Left: Finley and Hayes share a fist bump on their way to the podium (Photo: Mike Kirtley)
Bottom Left: U14 competitors stick around to watch the rest of the day unfold (Photo: Barrett Stowell)
Right: Finley Kirschenman (1st) and Hayes Livernois (2nd)
STOP #2 U14 RESULTS
1 Finley Kirschenmann 81
2 Hayes Livernois 78
3 Simon Miller 77
4 Max Abrams 74
5 Jack Benson 72
6 Grady Payson 67
7 Walden Bart 51
8 Julian Voytilla 42
9 Xavi Violette 41
Left: Jack Benson
Right: Julian Voytilla
The Women’s Open class had also grown since June, with seven riders registered to compete. Though two weren’t able to start, the small but mighty field of five continued to push the progression of women’s slopestyle. Clair Sick (a longtime racer but newcomer to the slopestyle scene) picked off almost every feature in her first competition, keeping it chill but still throwing a bar turn off of Dirty Bird. A short rain delay midway through the Women’s Open class didn’t dampen rider spirits. As soon as the weather had moved through and Trail Crew had manually dried off the few wood features, the athletes attacked the course with renewed vigor.
Unfriendly skies rolling in over the slope course. The women kept the energy up at the start gate with a Rain Hold Dance Party while most of the men’s class waited it out on the Freebird roll-in, keeping an eye on the dirt and catching (slightly soggy) donuts tossed from the judges’ tower. (Left, Bottom, and Right Photos: Mike Kirtley)
It was a tight race for the top spot between Highland Trail Crew’s Whitney Poulin and Stop #1’s returning champion Amelia Capuano. Whitney (already a women’s freeride legend in her own right) showed off some classic style with whips, tables, and one-handers all over the course. Both of Amelia’s runs were characterized by her signature smoothness, throwing one-handers off the cannon log and step-up jump. A seemingly effortless suicide no-hander over Freebird on her second run pushed her into the top spot. Tania Lillak rounded out the podium with a third place finish.
Left: KaJay Rooke (Photo: Barrett Stowell)
Right: Tania Lillak
As always, the ladies brought an unparalleled energy: the women of Highland’s slopestyle scene have been steadily growing their community for years now, and they never fail to deliver the hype for one another.
STOP #2 WOMEN’S OPEN RESULTS
1 Amelia Capuano 83
2 Whitney Poulin 82
3 Tania Lillak 76
4 KaJay Rooke 70
5 Clair Sick 65
Left: Tania Lillak (3rd), Amelia Capuano (1st), Whitney Poulin (2nd)
Top Right: High fives all around in the backyard (Photo: Mike Kirtley)
Center Right: Stop #2 Trophies
Bottom Right: Highland Pub staff coming through to cheer on all the riders on the course
After the women’s second runs, competition moved immediately into the Men’s Open class. With a stacked roster of returning athletes and a handful of brand-new names, the mountain was expecting a show–and they got one.
Christian Arehart, returning after a second place finish at the June event, was still in recovery from a shoulder injury and “taking it easy.” For Christian, taking it easy apparently doesn’t rule out much: he held onto second place with a run that included, among other tricks: flip whips, barspins, suis, and multiple front flips. Real casual.
16-year-old Kaidan Ingersoll of Maine pulled no punches, defending his top spot with an absolutely wild run, starting with a backflip on the stepdown and truck driver off the cannon log. After a barspin and a 270 on the dirt satellite, he hit the camps drop with another truck driver followed by a 360 tailwhip on the step-up. Next was a backflip cancan, another barspin, then a whip off the up box before styling through the on-off and hitting Freebird with a backflip tailwhip.
Left: Danny Fendler
Right: Kevin Sweeney
Left: James Angiulo (Photo: Barrett Stowell)
Right: Dustin Iverson
The real fight was for third, which Kevin Sweeney, Dustin Iverson, and James Angiulo all held at one point during the day. James ultimately pulled beyond and claimed the spot on the podium, ending his run with a cannonball on Freebird.
James Angiulo (3rd), Kaidan Ingersoll (1st), Christian Arehart (2nd)
STOP #2 MEN’S OPEN RESULTS
1 Kaidan Ingersoll 95
2 Christian Arehart 92
3 James Angiulo 90
4 Dustin Iverson 87
5 Kevin Sweeney 85
6 Travis Morris 83
7 Derek Hines 82
8 Blake Turner 75
9 Lachlan Becker 74
10 Liam Nichols 73.5
11 Jacob Fletcher 73
12 Danny Fendler 66
13 Kieran Fraser 64
14 Kyle Viera 62
15 Avan Janelle 58
16 Chris Eldredge 55
17 Tynan Beauchemin 51
The day wrapped up with awards in the backyard, followed by live music and plenty of good drinks and good fun into the evening. With only one event left in the series, the stoke just keeps getting higher.
The final stop in the 2021 Freebird Slopestyle Series will take place on Saturday, September 25th. Don’t miss your last chance to be a part of the action!
Registration is already approaching half full, so athletes: make sure you lock in your spot sooner rather than later.
CURRENT SERIES STANDINGS:
1 – Simon Miller & Hayes Livernois
2 – Max Abrams
3 – Dareck Graham & Finley Kirschemann
1 – Amelia Capuano
2 – Tania Lillak
3 – KaJay Rooke
1 – Kaidan Ingersoll
2 – Christian Arehart
3 – James Angiulo
About Freebird Slopestyle: All three stops in this series are FMB Bronze level events, meaning that athletes competing in the Men’s and Women’s Open classes who hold an FMB Athlete License can earn points toward the FMB rankings. In addition, Highland Mountain will be awarding the series winner in both categories with a full-day private training session in 2022 alongside a Red Bull athlete. Riders under the age of 15 aren’t eligible for FMB standings, but are recognized by Highland in their own category of the Freebird Slopestyle Series. Learn more here.