Larson to compete at Freeride Junior World Championship
Essex native only East Coast skier to qualify
JEFFERSONVILLE, Vt. (WCAX) - East coast skiers are very familiar with the term “variable conditions,” with the last couple weeks being a pretty good demonstration of that idea. But one Vermonter hopes his experience skiing the East can help him stand out on the global stage.
“I started skiing when I was like 3, down at the bottom of the mountain on the Sir Henry slope (at Smugglers Notch),” said Essex native Griffin Larson.
Like a lot of Vermonters, Larson spends most of his free time in the Winter on the slopes. For nearly a decade, he’s turned what used to be a fun pastime into a competition as a member of the Smuggs ski team.
“My parents signed me up for the ski team because they realized that they really couldn’t teach me anything more,” he said. “The ski team introduced me to my first competition here when I was maybe 8.”
When most people think of competitive skiing, they think of racing or tricks in the terrain park. But Larson has taken a different route into the world of freeriding.
“Freeride is skiing down natural terrain,” Larson said. “So in the East, it’d be something that’s really bumpy or rocky, and then out in the West or on really big mountains, it’d be a really big face. You pick your own line, and you’re getting judged on your fluidity, your control, and your technique.”
Larson has competed at various places in Vermont, and because of his success here, he’s been able to go out West as well.
“I’ve traveled with my team to the North American Championships,” he said. “We got to compete at Kicking Horse in British Columbia a couple years ago. That was super cool.”
He’s developed a reputation as one of the best freeriders in North America, becoming the only East Coaster in his category to qualify for the Freeride Junior World Championships. He’s headed to Austria to compete against the best from the rest of the world in a couple weeks.
“It hasn’t really hit yet,” Larson said of his ahcievement. “I’ve competed against some that are in North America, but there’s a lot from Europe, and you know, they’re crazy.”
Larson says the runs he’ll be competing on are a lot more like the ones out West than he’s used to here, but he’s hopeful his experience in the East can help when the snow isn’t that great in Europe right now either.
“Our terrain is so different,” Larson said. “We have these crazy conditions where it’s 45 degrees and then it’ll probably freeze over tonight. And that really just challenges our ability to ski different terrain. And I think that’s what makes East Coast skiers stand out.”
Larson says he’s less concerned with how he finishes and more just wants to use the championships as an opportunity to represent his home state.
“I definitely want to represent Vermont,” he said. “Just to show that we ski differently and that the conditions don’t matter. And that you just go for it and have fun.”
The Freeride Junior World Championships run from January 23rd through the 26th in Kappl, Austria.
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