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Four Corners Freeskiing Team finishes first season

If you skied at Wolf Creek this year on Sundays, perhaps you noticed a pack of brightly-dressed young skiers hittin’ it hard and going big on the expert terrain. This group of skiers is the newly-formed Four Corners Freeskiing Team.

The Four Corners Freeskiing Team was formed in January 2012. It is a program offered through the Durango Winter Sports Foundation and supported by Wolf Creek Ski Area and Silverton Mountain, for expert and aspiring expert skiers ages 11-18. The team consists of kids from Pagosa Springs, Durango and Silverton.

It is a unique program offering comprehensive exposure to big mountain freeskiing. Skiers train in all aspects of skiing (racing, moguls, park and pipe, steeps, snow safety, etc.).

Coaching emphasizes the IFSA (International Freeskiers Association) judging criteria for big mountain skiing: line selection, attack, fluidity, technique and control. In addition to the competitive emphasis, the goal of the Four Corners Freeskiing Team is to develop young skiers with experience, passion and respect for skiing as a sport and lifestyle. In pursuit of this goal, team coaches foster the ethics of safety, sportsmanship and mastery of expert skiing skills.

The team is coached by Brian Berger. He has been teaching and coaching skiing for 18 seasons, the last six seasons coaching for the Alta Freeride Division at Alta, Utah. There, he helped develop one of the first freeskiing programs aimed at kids looking to compete in the fledgling Junior Big Mountain Competitions, most of which later evolved into the Junior Freeskiing World Tour.

Brian is new to the Wintersports Foundation staff, but is not new to the area. He spent eight seasons working at the ski school at Purgatory and three seasons working at Silverton Mountain. In addition to that work-related experience, he has traveled extensively in the San Juan backcountry for the past 15 seasons. He has also competed in alpine ski racing, mogul competitions, half-pipe, big air events and on the Freeskiing World Tour.

His certifications include PSIA Level 3, Avalanche Level 2, Wilderness First Responder, PSIA Park and Pipe, and PSIA Children’s Educator. In the off season, Brian is a mountain bike and whitewater rafting guide.

The team trained on Saturdays at Durango Mountain Resort, Sundays at Wolf Creek Ski Area and Silverton Mountain for the month of April. The last weekend in March, they traveled to Alta, Utah, where they skied with Alta’s freeskiing team and received coaching from some of the world’s most accomplished freeskiers.

Next ski season, they will prepare to compete in a Junior Freeskiing World Tour event and get their Avalanche 1 certification.

To learn more about freeskiing, visit www.jrfreeskiing.com, and www.freeskiers.org.

For information about the Four Corners Freeskiing Team, visit www.purgatoryskiteam.org/big-mountain-team/ or contact Coach Brian Berger at babuerger@yahoo.com. For photos and videos, visit the team’s Facebook page, Four Corners Freeskiing Team.

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