Highland has long served as a training ground for both new and seasoned athletes. This year, we’re building on our history of hosting slope events like the Claymore Challenge and the 2019 US Open of Slopestyle by bringing a new opportunity for competition to a fresh generation of riders: the 2021 Freebird Slopestyle Series. This three-part series offers three FMB Bronze events to riders in both men’s and women’s categories. (Highland is also offering a third category for riders aged 14 and under.)
The first stop in the series took place on Saturday, June 19. Competition opened with the Under 14 age class, with a small but mighty crew of four battling it out. 14-year-old Dareck Graham secured the top spot after a rowdy run marked by an impressive tire grab. He was joined on the podium by Simon Miller (2nd) and Hayes Livernois (3rd). Despite being too young to be considered for FMB standings, this new generation is already proving that by the time it’s their turn they’ll be more than ready for the spotlight.
STOP #1 U14 RESULTS / CURRENT STANDINGS
1 Dareck Graham 90
2 Simon Miller 82
3 Hayes Livernois 80
4 Max Abrams 78
Dareck Graham ready to rumble.
Hayes Livernois (3rd), Dareck Graham (1st), Simon Miller (2nd)
Speaking of their turn: this event marked the first time that Highland has offered a women’s category in a slopestyle event, and our first group of competitors showed that we were well overdue.
Newcomer Amelia Capuano surprised the crowd by throwing down a run peppered with tricks (including a no-hander off of Freebird) less than a week after her first introduction to the slope course. Building off a strong cross country background, a few days spent riding with the other women at Highland provided enough encouragement to take on a new challenge and ultimately earned her the top Slopestyle spot. Not a story you hear often!
Brooke Trine of Ohio took second, laying down two impressive runs with a final score of 85 points. An under-rotated backflip off of Freebird ended Brooke’s second run with a broken wrist, but the other ladies didn’t let her podium spot go unrecognized: an enthusiastic “Yeah Brooke!” t-shirt served as a placeholder while she got patched up.
Highland locals Tania Lillak and KaJay Rooke took third and fourth, respectively.
STOP #1 OPEN WOMEN’S RESULTS / CURRENT STANDINGS
1 Amelia Capuano 89
2 Brooke Trine 85
3 Tania Lillak 67
4 KaJay Rooke 55
“Yeah Brooke!” – Tania Lillak (3rd), Amelia Capuano (1st), KaJay Rooke (4th)
Then it was on to the Men’s Open class, where Kaidan Ingersoll and Christian Arehart went head to head for the top spot. Both up-and-coming athletes well on their way to wider recognition, these two young riders floated through the course like they owned the place. Kaidan ultimately eked out the top spot at 89 points with a backflip can, while Christian’s front flip tuck no hander earned him a very close second with 88 points.
Third place was secured by Chad “Steak” DeLuca, well-known around Highland for his years on the ground as one of the mountain’s OG coaches. (A not insignificant percentage of the other competitors had been coached by Chad in the past.) His final superman over Freebird was something to behold, leaving him with a final score of 81 points.
Locals Kevin Sweeney and James Angiulo rounded out the top five in a field of fourteen competitors. Dustin Iverson, Travis Morris, Mike Kent, Peter Spang, and Liam Nichols all also claimed a spot in the top ten.
STOP #1 OPEN MEN’S RESULTS / CURRENT STANDINGS
1 Kaidan Ingersoll 89
2 Christian Arehart 88
3 Chad DeLuca 81
4 Kevin Sweeney 75
5 James Angiulo 71
6 Dustin Iverson 66
7 Travis Morris 65
8 Mike Kent 64
9 Peter Spang 62
10 Liam Nichols 56
Kaidan Ingersoll (1st), Christian Arehart (2nd), and Chad DeLuca (3rd)
The second Freebird Slopestyle stop drops in this Saturday, August 21st. Competition will kick off at 11am, with live music provided throughout the afternoon by Chris Fritz-Grice. Awards will once again be given to the top three riders in all three categories, while all athletes will continue to earn points toward the overall Freebird Slopestyle Series standings.
With most of the athletes from Stop #1 slated to return and some exciting new names on the roster, this event is not one to miss!
For athletes: Space is limited, so if you haven’t already locked in your spot make sure to do that today! Registration will close on Friday.
For spectators: This event is free to spectate. The rest of the mountain will remain open to the public as usual. Find more information here.