Entering his first season on the Freeride World Tour, Logan Pehota was a wildcard.
The 20-year-old Pembertonian was invited onto the tour for the 2016 season and proved he belonged in his debut.
Pehota, the son of legendary skier Eric, took a fourth-place finish in Vallnord-Arcalis, Andorra in his first event on the tour on Jan. 22, scoring an 86.50. Sweden's Kristoffer Turdell wrapped up the victory with 90.50 points and Russia's Ivan Malakhov nipped Pehota by scoring an 86.63 to take third. Switzerland's Jérémie Heitz placed second.
Pehota planned two separate approaches to the mountain before heading up, but ultimately opted for Plan B for fear of making a costly mistake and missing a chunk of the season with an injury.
"I had two lines picked out and I ended up doing my back-up run there. I felt more comfortable with that run. It was safer and I really just wanted to make it down to the bottom without hitting any rocks or getting hurt, being so early in the season," he said. "The plan (was) to be on the other side of the venue, which seemed to have more of the winning runs, which I figured was going to be the case. It had a few big areas that I wasn't sure about the landings. We kept talking about rocks and so on. I really just wanted to do a more conservative run."
When all was said and done, Pehota acknowledged he was thrilled to have placed where he did, especially considering the nature of his run.
"I was kind of surprised at how well I did. I wasn't really expecting to come fourth," he said. "I'm not saying I wasn't trying or anything, I just wasn't expecting to be quite that high after my run."
Before descending for the first time at the FWT level, Pehota wasn't exactly sweating bullets.
"I was not very nervous. I was quite shocked, really. I'm not sure why I wasn't nervous, maybe just because I was pretty confident in my run," he said.
Pehota was discovered at the Skiers Cup in Zermatt, Switzerland in 2015, as Freeride World Tour founder Nicolas Hale-Woods offered him a wildcard spot on the tour.
"I didn't have to qualify. I just got in," he said. "I'm glad I was able to show I have what it takes to compete with these guys."
Pehota competed again at this year's Skiers Cup on Feb. 1, winning his head-to-head matchup with Swiss competitor Nicolas Vuignier, though Team Americas fell 10-6 to Europe overall.
Pehota was speaking from Chamonix, France, where he is slated to compete this weekend. He noted with bucket-loads of snow in the forecast, the event might be moved ahead a day to Friday, Feb. 5 to make the most of the great conditions.
"It looks like it's supposed to snow 50 centimetres and then go bluebird. It could be a really good event," he said.