words and photos by Julie Weinberger

Since the US Open lottery system failed to do many skiers justice, Echo Mountain Park and Newschoolers teamed up to host the 2nd Annual Colorado Conquest, giving three more kids entry to big event.

“I hate the lottery system,” said third place finisher Luke Perin. “I think there should be more competitions like this to allow the good skiers in, and not just the Internet gurus.”

Trent Jones and a lot of blowing snow

Even with Saturday’s gusty winds, the 26 skiers did not hold back on the slopestyle course strewn with a down rail, a down-flat-down box, a rainbow box, an “X” box, a flat-down rail and two relatively small jumps. To keep with the fun, relaxed vibe of Echo, qualifying was a two-hour jam session where the judges based finals decisions on overall impression rather than just one run. This gave everyone a chance to show his or her entire bag of tricks.

Instead of waiting to drop, why not drop at the same time?

After much deliberation over different styles and strengths, the judges picked 10 skiers for the finals.

“Today was kind of hard to judge because the jumping condition was so variable,” said contest judge and Jibij Pro Shop rider Jon Hartman. “There were definitely a couple of clear cut picks, but we wanted to make sure no one was overlooked.”

Judges Nevill Wilder, Josh Bryant and Josh Bishop intently look on.

Because of the unpleasant weather, MC Doug Bishop and the judges—Hartman along with Jibij’s Josh Bryant, team riders Josh Bishop and Nevill Wilder as well as Joe I-don’t-know-your-last-name—gave the finalists a choice of how to do the final, or to not do it at all. Somewhat shockingly, about half the kids did not want to have a final. Come on! I know the wind was brutal, and that the shadows came over the jumps pretty early. But, skiing is fun, and everything in this contest kept it fun. One judge suggested we take the skiers who wanted a final, and just have them ski for the three spots. Anyway, Doug used his persuasion skills, explaining how at the Open, the weather could be just as unrelenting and that there is even more waiting around. Eventually just about everyone came around, wanting a best of two runs final.

Luke Perin

The 10 finalists—Kelly Armintrout, LJ Caulfield, Pat Goodnough, Trent Jones, Tim Mchesney, Owen Mckee, Luke Perin, Cam Riley, Drake Unruh and Brett Weiss—kicked it up from the jam session.

Drake Unruh

Brett Weiss had the best looking corks of the day.

From 450-on, 270-offs to flat 5s to super stylie rodeos and 7s, all nine guys and one girl showed their stuff. At the end of the day, Pat Goodnough came out on top with a 450 on the down rail to a tail press on the rainbow box to a flat 5 to switch 7. Drake Unruh took second with solid rails and a super smooth 360 nose and rodeo. Perin got the final Open spot with a clean 5 to a switch 7. And, shout-outs to Trent Jones for taking the big gap to 450 on the down rail and 270-ing out as well as switching up the rainbow box three times, to Brett Weiss for his very nice cork 7 and 9 and to Owen Mckee for disastering the down-flat-down.

US Open spots to Luke Perin, Pat Goodnough and Drake Unruh.

Since Jibij Pro Shop was a big sponsor of the event, Josh Bryant gave out a pair of skis to the skier of his choice, Cam Riley, for his performance. While prizes usually go to the top finishers, Bryant wanted to give the skis to someone else since the top three got US Open spots.

Cam Riley

“He put down awesome runs,” Bryant said. “He just didn’t land everything in finals. If he had landed it, he definitely would have gotten a US Open spot.”

Big ups to Echo, Jibij, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Jockey, Rocky Mountain Honda Dealers, Sobe, Head, Rossignol and, of course, Newschoolers for making this event possible.