Though Kayla Constantini received a challenge, she wasn't going to be denied at the U12 American Championships on April 12.
At the event at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah, the Whistler Freeride Club (WFC) member powered through both her runs to post a score of 59.93, edging Aspen Valley Ski Club's Aurora Cherney (58.57) and Crystal Mountain Freeride Program's Lucy Kettrick (58.00).
"I always felt good and never thought that I wouldn't (win)," she said. "I was positive."
Constantini described her run as having "a little bit of everything" from moguls to drops. She said the conditions changed fairly significantly, from ideal weather with sunny clear skies in qualifiers to more fog and wind during finals.
Constantini also enjoyed the camaraderie surrounding an international event, especially when so many other athletes come from home resorts that have their own intricacies.
"It's really good meeting other people and seeing what other teams do where they're from," she said.
Also in Utah, WFC's Marcus Goguen topped the men's 12-to-14 event, posting a one-run score of 32.07 to nick Red Mountain Academy's Xander Bankes and Squaw Valley Big Mountain's Gavin Weber, who tied for second at 31.97. Teammates Leif Gascoigne and Tristan Curran hit the top 10 in fifth and eighth, respectively. On the women's side, Drea Dimma took sixth.
Goguen, who finished second overall in the North American rankings said his winning run was easily his smoothest of the season.
"It was my cleanest run of the year. Usually, at the end of my runs, I feel like I had a super sketchy run but for the first time this year, I didn't," he said. "I was clean, I was fluid and I stomped all my airs."
Meanwhile, Olivia McNeill—the defending champion in the women's 15-to-18 event—posted a 32.60 to finish third behind Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy's Mackenzie Winton (33.50) and SquawFree's Lily Bradley (32.70). Teammate Aoife Gannon took 10th. In the men's division, Whistler's Troy Rozsypalek took eighth.
Full results are online at www.freeskiers.org.
Peiffer twins crack FWT
On the strength of three wins on the Freeride World Qualifier circuit, Tom Peiffer punched his ticket to the 2019 Freeride World Tour fairly early.
But his twin brother, Liam, went right down to the wire to secure his slot, as both WFC alums will ride in the "big leagues" next season after claiming two of three North American openings. Liam's third-place showing at the season's final event at Kirkwood Mountain Resort at the end of March helped him compile enough points to take his spot.
Tom said his season got off to the perfect start in Revelstoke as he took the win, which is difficult at the best of times, but even more so being the season opener.
"Right off the bat, it's a big competition and winning that one ... going into the rest of the season, you know you can achieve it," he said. "It's always hard (when you get) off to a slow start, so winning that one is a huge morale booster."
On the other hand, though, the win put a target on his back, though Tom handled it coolly by amassing two more wins on the season to lead the tour.
Liam said at times, he's struggled to find some consistency in his runs, but this year, his peaks (a win at Kicking Horse to go with the Kirkwood showing) were enough to help him achieve a childhood dream.
"It's something I've been chasing since I was 12 years old and competing in very junior-level competitions. It always seemed out of reach to make it there and then it finally happened. It's a little bit surreal," Liam said. "My first year on the qualifying circuit, when I was 18, I (finished) fourth and that's when I realized I could do it. The next season following was a bad season and I re-evaluated everything. This season was up and down.
"It really was a roller coaster ride."
The difference for Liam in recent years was to adopt a low-pressure attitude.
"I had decided not to take anything too seriously and to just go have fun, see what happens and ski for myself," Liam said. "I got it just right, apparently."
Tom noted one major challenge on tour will be the visual inspection before events as opposed to pre-riding the terrain.
Both brothers were glad not only to make the tour, but to do it together.
"That means the world. That's something we always thought that if it happened, that would be the best way," Liam said. "I was so shocked. It's probably the coolest thing we accomplished as brothers."
Said Tom: "It's pretty crazy having his name beside mine, especially as twins."