The first stop in the 2023 Ultimate Freerider Series is in the books!
Highland’s FMB-Bronze series has evolved for 2023, holding competition not just on the iconic slopestyle course but also in the dirt jumps and brand new dirt pipe in an effort to find the East Coast’s Ultimate Freerider. With boys and girls youth competition as well as men’s and women’s open classes (now offering cash prizes!), the series is designed to highlight our best and brightest up-and-coming local athletes in the US scene.
Stop 1: Dirt Jumps
As usual, the morning kicked off with the U15 competition classes. The kids were not here to mess around, and competition in Lower Sherwood was tight. Despite the relatively short course, the young athletes left no feature untouched.
Lyon Hyldahl laid down an untouchable first run. Lyon’s performance was especially notable for being on a borrowed bike–he’d broken his frame in practice just a couple of days before. Highland local Ethan Erps took the silver spot, throwing some heavy tricks and staying calm, cool, and controlled through both of his runs. Third place finisher 8-year-old Weston Lukens of Florida was the talk of the morning, shocking the crowd with a backflip combo on the showcase jump.
Local Lyla McSheffrey was in a class of her own, holding it down for the Girls U15 category. After two smooth runs in Lower Sherwood, Lyla carried that momentum to Upper Sherwood where she also competed in the Women’s Open class, claiming her second podium spot of the day.
Last year’s second place finisher Betsy Orfao was the woman to watch this time around, blasting through the course with speed, precision, and controlled tricks even after a heavy crash during practice. Rounding out the women’s podium were two young up-and-comers Kira Livernois (last year’s Girls U15 champion) and Lyla McSheffrey, each with runs marked by one-handers and tables. Highland’s favorite mom Tania Lillak didn’t quite make the podium, but certainly kept the stoke high among the crowd all day long.
The Open Men’s category was small but stacked, with local heavy hitters going head-to-head on their own home turf.
Liftie Carter Segien and trail builder Jamie Cooper-Ellis held it down for the little tire crowd, both delivering some unbelievably rowdy brakeless BMX runs. Coach Ryan Divelbiss had some smooth backflips to show off as well. Dareck “Bubba” Graham, former U15 champion, proved that he’s more than ready to play with the big guns, earning a fourth place spot in his first foray into the Men’s Open class..
Local favorite “The People’s Champ” Jerrell Webster had big plans for competition day, but lady luck had other ideas and crashes in both of his competition runs took him out of the running. He wasn’t the only one plagued by competition crashes – a wipeout on the final feature took Liam Nichols out of his usual spot toward the front of the pack.
Highland athlete Kaidan Ingersoll once again proved impossible to dislodge from the first place spot. Andrew Meier veered off course on his first run, but came back with a vengeance in round two and managed to take home the second place finish. Christian Arehart took third, with a performance marked by his trademark cashrolls.
Despite a number of crashes, all of the athletes walked away uninjured, and even threw together an impromptu “best trick” jam after the event had wrapped so they could all still show off the tricks that hadn’t landed in the pressure of competition, keeping the crowd hyped long after the judges had packed away their steno sheets.
The Ultimate Freerider Series competition will continue on September 16th on the newly rebuilt Dirt Pipe course! Athletes will be the first to throw down on Highland Trails’ latest project – and the crew has truly pulled out all the stops for this one. It is not an event to miss.
Find athlete registration and spectator information here.