Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat skier Landon Wendler flies off a kicker into a spread eagle Sunday during a competition at Howelsen Hill. The event drew more than 100 skiers from across the region.
Steamboat Springs The crowd buzzed as Steamboat Springs J4 freestyle skier Payton McElhiney skidded to a stop at the bottom of the mogul run at Howelsen Hill on Sunday in Steamboat Springs.
The 720 McElhiney landed off the one kicker on the short course had everyone asking the same question.
“Wow. Who’s that kid?”
On Sunday, he was the moguls champ of a Rocky Mountain Division Devo freestyle event that attracted more than 100 freestyle skiers from across the region for moguls and slopestyle competitions.
“It was my best day overall competing,” McElhiney said. “My turns also felt a lot better than they have.”
Some reported the moguls course was slick in some places and soft in others. Some landed big tricks for the first time and others wiped out after pushing a spin a little too far or cutting a corner a little too sharp.
Most of those standing at the bottom, whether they’d turned in textbook runs or not, agreed it was a fun day to be skiing, however.
“It was a lot of fun,” Steamboat’s Colton Creamer said.
McElhiney was the boys overall moguls champion, finishing ahead of Vail’s Jack Skidmore, who was in second, and Winter Park’s Sam Waugaman in third. Steamboat ended up with five of the top 10 finishers, Samson Schuiling, the top J5 boy, finished fourth overall, Tyler Strnad was fifth, McKenyon King was sixth and Bridger Boyd was ninth.
“It was pretty good,” King said. “It was a little icy in parts. On my first run, I had one of the best runs I’ve ever had, but at the very end, I blew out. But I didn’t fall. On the second run, I caught my edge on the jump.”
Vail’s J5 freestyler Tess Johnson was the top girl, ahead of second-place Skyler Nunn, from Telluride, and third-place Dara Kissel, of Vail. Juliana Nix was the top Steamboater, in 11th overall and seventh among J4 girls.
Steamboat also got top finishes from Cash Globe, second in J3 boys, and Schuiling, first among J5 boys, ahead of second-place Kaden Mendonca and third-place McKinley Skov.
McElhiney also was among the best in the slopestyle competition, finishing second, just behind Aspen’s Andrew Tierney. Davis Henschel, also of Aspen, was third. Schuiling was fifth, Creamer was seventh and Mendonca was 10th for Steamboat. Patricia Davie, in 12th, was the top Steamboat girl in slopestyle.
Schuiling was the top J5 boy, Mendonca was second, Skov was third, Maxwell Sauerbrey was fourth, Teague Burger was fifth and Jason Starks was seventh.