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Banff freeriders send it on rough mountain slope

Local freeriders won six medals in B.C.
Banff freerider Seth Sands, middle right, won silver in the U19 men's competition at the 2024 Panorama IFSA Jr. 2 last weekend (Jan. 26-28) in Panorama, B.C. AARON SANDS PHOTO

PANORAMA, B.C. – It rained, the snow was punchy, and conditions were challenging. Still, ULLR Big Mountain’s response to the latest freeride competition in Panorama was to send it.

The freeride team, based out of Lake Louise, won six medals at the 2024 Panorama IFSA Jr. 2 competition from Jan. 26-28 at the Panorama Mountain Resort in British Columbia.

In spite of the unfavourable mild weather, Banff sisters Mya and Lucy Firlotte each won gold in their age categories, respectively, after finding the right lines and skiing unscathed down the ungroomed mountain.

“I went into a place that no other girls in my category were going to,” said Mya, who competed in the U19 women’s category. “I think just the way that I planned my line really helped me like earn a couple extra points to get ahead.”

In a regional series event, like in Panorama, freeriders gain points, especially with podiums, in an attempt to qualify for bigger events down the line.

With a long list of bad injuries over the past few years, Mya said they have never been a career-ender, but she didn’t try anything too risky in the awkward conditions.

“Just getting down without crashing was everyone’s main goal and it proved to be pretty difficult for some,” said Mya. “I had a couple of decent hits and it’s just really about sending them smoothly and landing.”

ULLR’s Amelie Carscallen finished fourth in U19 women.

Competing in U12 girls, Lucy’s first-place points will go toward her rankings in the following season.

“I think that the main thing [that helped get gold] would be speed, fluidity and I’m probably trying to send it and hitting it more,” said Lucy. “It was really fun and it was a great experience and I think that cops are just amazing for like learning and having fun.”

Abigail Gibson finished third in U12 girls.

Eli Panning-Osendarp, coach at ULLR, said he was proud of how the entire team did in unusual conditions.

“The final venue was really exciting. It was a new venue that no one had competed on before on the back end,” said Panning-Osendarp. “That had tons of options and features and snow conditions were a little bit tricky as it was so warm and raining almost at the top … but everyone made it look like it was just fine.”

The highlight of the day was when Banff’s Seth Sands, winner of the 2023 IFSA North American Freeride Junior Championships, landed a Screamin’ Seaman – a jump where you cross your ankles over and then back out to land. 

“The judges afterwards told me that it made all of their day … It’s quite a challenging and risky trick, but he pulled it off perfectly,” said Panning-Osendarp.

Sands finished second at the event in the U19 men, and ULLR’s Eddie Falkenberg was sixth.

Other results for ULLR include Sullivan Cushing and Ronan Loria finishing first and second in the U12 boys, respectively.

Lily Robertson and Emma Robertson finished fifth and 10th in U15 girls, respectively.

In U15 boys, Owen Orchard and Aidan Wright finished sixth and seventh, respectively, and Alex Hall was 10th.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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