Nelson’s Sam Kuch and Andrea Bryne of Fernie took first place in the boys and girls 15-18 category at the Smith Optics Freeski Open at Whitewater last weekend.

Whitewater Freeride team blasts Smith Optics competition

Kuch brothers part of the Whitewater wave of winners at the Smith Optics Junior Freeride Open at Whitewater Ski Resort last weekend.



After a difficult season of freeskiing due to weather, cancellations, and postponed contests, Whitewater Freeride Team kicked off the 4th Annual Smith Optics Junior Freeski open at Whitewater with a full registration of 90 athletes from BC and Alberta and a few from south of the border.

The weather was iffy but despite refrozen conditions the venues skied very well on Sleeper on Saturday and Sunday’s finals on Blast, beneath the Summit chair.

Coach Dano Slater said Whitewater skier Dale Cushway’s impressive run on Saturday took the run of the day Saturday, “with a gigantic 360 off a feature named Big Stupid followed by five more 360 spins before the finish line.”

Slater noted that they had the largest field of 7 to 11 year-olds they had ever seen, showing freeskiing is alive and well with the younger skiers.

On Sunday, Whitewater skiers held eight of the top 10 spots going into the finals for boys 15-18 and three of the top five spots in the girls 15-18 finals.

Sol Butler of South Slocan placed second in the Boys 15-18 category. Photo courtesy of Whitewater Ski Resort.

Adam Kuch took first in the boys 7 to 11 age group, finally achieving his goal for the season.

Sam Kuch, Adam’s older brother, earned first place in the boys 15-18 with a solid run that had the crowd of spectators cheering and athletes rushing to congratulate him at the finish line.

“Sam Kuch’s run was nothing short of mind blowing, dripping with style and energy, pushing him into his familiar home on the top of the podium,” said Slater.

Savannah Leishman skied two very solid runs but was edged out of first place by Andrea Byrne from Fernie. Byrne was the only female to “bust the road gap into lower Blast” said Slater, “something that took her out last year.” Andrea or “Dre” is kin to the Whitewater team as she often skis with them at contests.

Carlos Berger pulled an amazing recovery on his final run avoiding a huge upset as he came out unscathed.

Slater added there was amazing skiing by Jona Caney, Nigel Ziegler, Loki Wickman-Rathe, Ben Woodward, Eli Lutz , Jaiden Martinson Hatt, and Kaleb Jensen.

“This group truly loves to ski,” said Slater as he described one of his weekend highlights.

“After the comp, our whole team skied the Blast in rat pack formation, back flipping the features they were not allowed to in the comp, then again and again…”

All in all, Slater is very proud of the Whitewater team and said, “They are truly a inspirational group of rippers that seem to have the most fun doing what they do.”

Fourth annual Smith Optics Junior Freeski Open results:

Girls 7-11

1–Lucy Leishman-Nelson

2–Alanna Meadus-Invermere

3–Cayenne Caney-Nelson

Boys 7-11

1 – Adam Kuch-Nelson

2–Xander Bankes-Rossland

3–Toby Hillis-Rossland

Girls 12-14

1–Erin Flood-Rossland

2–Jemma Capel-Banff

3–Kaleigh Meadus-Invermere

Boys 12-14

1–Orion Humphreys-Rossland

2–Simon Hillis-Rossland

3–Jesse Thurston-Nelson

Girls 15-18

1–Andrea Byrne-Fernie

2–Savannah Leishman-Nelson

3–Claire Madill-Kamloops

Boys 15-18

1 – Sam Kuch-Nelson

2–Dale Cushway-Ymir

3–Sol Butler-South Slocan

For the complete results, visit www.skiwhitewater.com.

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