Ryan Hawks Memorial IFSA Junior National Freeride competition at Mad River Glen
On March 9 and 10th, 2019, the International Free Ride Ski Association held the first annual Flyin Ryan Freeride Tournament to honor the legacy of Ryan Hawks who died in Kirkwood California in a world Free Ride Tour competition in 2011.
Ryan served as a respected free ride coach In the Mad River Freeride Program. Ryan’s father Peter represented The Flyin Ryan Foundation. He spoke to the competitors on both days with remarks that were influenced by Ryan and were focused on skiing for the right reasons. Both competitors and attending parents were moved by these remarks. Saturday was a bluebird day and the course was in excellent shape.
Sunday was more of a challenge for the older skiers. The lifts were on wind hold and the competition was delayed. The course was under the single chair and finally the 11 competitors were allowed to ride the double, which had just opened. From there they had to hike over to the single chair for an inspection run. After the inspection run, Mad River opened the single chair to ferry the competitors up the hill to the course. The course was challenging but the quality of skiing by the competitors was outstanding with just one exception. One competitor displayed flagrant disrespect for himself and his own safety as well as the safety of the judges and spectators lining the course. His potential for injury was significant but, fortunately, he walked away unharmed. If he had been injured it would have been detrimental to Mad River Glen and to the freeride community. IFSA reacted by suspending his license until he acknowledges the errors of his ways and takes demonstrable steps to ensure that he reigns in the recklessness of his skiing in the future. We included this element of the competition in this story to accentuate the fact that today’s big mountain freeride skiing is not like the “hot dogging” of the 70s. Judges give very high marks to fluidity, control, and technique when awarding scores. Good skiing is rewarded; reckless skiing is given demerits. The vast majority of competitors recognize this and the sport has an excellent safety record.
Two skiers were awarded Flyin Ryan character awards which are given out at all of the Eastern IFSA events to recognize outstanding display of character. The awards for this event went to Ryan Nagle and Sophia Bisbee, both members of the Mad River Glen Freeskiing Team. They received Flyin Ryan awards for exemplifying Ryan’s core principles. Thank you Ryan and Sophia for setting the standard for our Freeride community!