With 4 events and an unrivaled prizing schedule, this years Young Gun Open tour is one of the biggest opportunities for am skiers to take it to the next level. With the Copper, CO event already filled up itís evident that competition will be fierce. We sat down with team managers Jonny Atencio (Scott), Jason Levinthal (Line), and Charlie Adams (Level Gloves) to find out what theyíll be looking for in their selection of the Young Gun team. As always, all info including current Young Gun Open registration numbers are available at the Siver Young Gun mini-site. NS: What drew you in to being involved in the Young Gun Open? Jonny Atencio: I was really drawn to the fact that this event gives all kids that want to compete, a chance. It is not as intimidating as showing up at the US Open and having Tanner Hall in your heat. Jason Levinthal : It was Mike's idea and I know once he sets his mind to something he doesn't stop until he kills it so it was either get involved or wish I did later. Charlie Adams : Level is always on the lookout for grass roots events that connect us to the kids on the hill. Being part of the YGO...an event where unknown kids can throw down and grab some national recognition is perfect for us. Its kind of what we are all about as a company...the little guy going off. NS: What separates the YGO from other Open competitions in your eyes? JA: See Above. JL: Skiing shouldn't be a spectator sport, why watch when you can participate? It also answers the most popular question I get from skiers, "how do I get sponsored?Ē Itís easy to say, call me after you prove you're the best in the world, but there are very few opportunities to do this so now you've got a few more. CA: Even though we've seen some amazing breakout performances by "unknowns", the other big Open events are pretty much dominated by the top Pros. The Young Gun is a way to give all the younger talent an opportunity to show what they can do on their own stage. NS: With four athletes receiving contracts from your company where will these riders fit into your overall team plans? JA: This will give them the opportunity to prove what they are capable of. I think we all (Line, Siver, Level, etc.) are stoked to be involved with the four athletes that win the sponsorships, and plan on doing the best we can to support them to the level that they show that they deserve to be sponsored at. The more they step up, the more we do. I am always stoked to work with motivated athletes. JL: For Line they'll be right there with some of our other higher level Mountain Command regional / am skiers that have great potential to someday take their skills all of the way. Honestly there aren't many am skiers getting the amount of support and opportunity that these 4 will be receiving. Itís an incredible opportunity. CA: You don't know for sure...it depends on how fast they blow up. Level's Am Team is pretty high powered (Davison, Durtschi, Philippi) so I'd expect that's where they will end up the 1st year. Then we can move them up to the Pro Team at the right time...Itís not too difficult to know when someone is ready. NS : What specifically will your one-year contracts entail for the riders? What will you expect from them over the next year? JA: They will receive a photo inventive contract and a victory schedule that will reward TV, Magazine, and Movie exposure as well as Podium finishes in the bigger events. JL: They get what it says on the site. I expect them to have a great time skiing next year, to progress and have fun while taking advantage of the opportunities that they otherwise might not have had. Obviously represent Line but also remember that they'll be representing the sport and the Young Gun Open so be cool to people and don't forget to continue skiing for the fun of it. CA: We load the Team up with lots of product and swag, and everyone is psyched with the gear and proud to represent. When the time is right we move the rider up to full Pro status, when financial rewards come into play. We would expect these riders to keep working hard on their skiing and contribute to the Team, represent with a positive attitude, and enjoy what they do. We encourage them to get involved with projects like our website and our Team Updates on newschoolers. Our whole team can log on and post pictures and updates like Zach Davison's story about his blown knee. We try to create a genuine relationship with our Team...not just a sponsorship. NS: How will this event series compare with your normal rider selection process? JA: I am really looking forward to attending these events, the talent pool of people that we have never seen is going to be insane. JL: This event is the real deal, we're not comparing you to just the skier at your local mtn, or just the east or west, etc. We're comparing you against every skier in the country. There is no question in my mind that some of the best talent we'll have in the future will come from this event. CA: Level always tries to be close enough to what's happening out there to see the upcoming talent and to see where the sport is headed. But itís tough to be everywhere! The YGO will give us an opportunity to see more kids...probably the best talent in four different regions. This kind of regional showcase never existed before so we're psyched. NS: What will you be looking for from the competitors for them to get your vote? JA: The highest score is not always the most important thing to me...attitude and style are equally as important. JL: Creativity, style, technical skills, originality, balls, everything that makes them stand out. If you don't stand out here, then you won't stand out in the big time. Everyone can do the same tricks these days which is why creativity, originality and strategy comes so much into play. How are you going to do something different, somewhere different, in a different way while still making it look better then anyone else. This is what makes you stand out from all of the rest. CA: Skiing should be natural, athletic, and clean. The best skiers definitely show a combination of creativity and control. If you can add energy and amplitude, even better. If I were to vote, I'd choose a smooth, balanced and skilled skier over a huckster every time. NS: Have you ever had the opportunity to judge an event like this before? Are you in any way qualified to do this? Is skiing judging so much of sham that it doesn't matter in the slightest? JA: I have not judged an event like this before, I think I might bow out on the actually technical judging and might just hang and give input....(if thatís allowed) JL: I haven't judged an event like this but I've found some of the top skiers in the sport years before they were ever noticed by anyone else. The skiers in this comp will have my full attention. My judging will have nothing to do with prior relationships or the skier's history, I don't care who you are, I only care what you did that day at that moment during that run. CA: I love watching and "scoring" an event like this...as a spectator. I won't hesitate to pick a winner, but you would definitely be a moron to make me a judge.