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Ajax Cup opposes 2 AVSC pro products in the final | Sports


The 13th Ajax Cup was rightly held with a pair of Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club products.

Bridger Gile’s Aspen Supports Kids team beat Wiley Maple’s Indy 8-4 in the final as the sun began to set behind Ajax on Friday afternoon. Gile, 23, outplayed Maple, 32, in both of their matchups. Along the way, Gile has beaten other pros – albeit in multiple areas – Hanna Faulhaber, Dustin Cook and Katie Ryan to earn a victory in his first-ever Gorsuch Cup in the biggest fundraiser for an AVSC program that has spawned many returning professional athletes. compete.

“He’s like the king of the mountain here, so anytime you can beat him here, it’s a big deal,” Gile said of Maple. “As a kid, he was always someone I looked up to. He’s a lot older than me and once I got to that age he was sort of speeding around so I don’t like him. didn’t see much. But once I did the [U.S. Ski] Team, then we started to connect a bit.

Aspen Supports Kids came out of the round robin with 13 points from individual wins, behind only the aptly named Go Fast or Go Home’s 14, led by pro Chad Fleischer. Each of the 16 teams had a pro on the roster, drawn on Wednesday. Riders set handicap times on Thursday which were then used in Friday’s competition to delay the faster rider’s release from the gate. The first to cross the line won a point and the four teams with the most points qualified for the round robin. In the semi-finals, two teams went head-to-head with the most wins in their six-person rosters qualifying for the final, where each rider raced down Little Nell Hill twice.

Gile’s team consisted of Chad and Hendrix Oppenheim, Avery and Ted Freedman, and Jasper McBride.

Chad Oppenheim suffered his first loss of the day in the opener of the final, falling to Michele Payne, who took a 10-second lead on the gate. The architecturally-acclaimed Oppenheim then bounced back with a surprisingly close win over Payne in the second leg of the final, crossing the line within thousands of seconds of each other.

“I saw her fall, which is disheartening, but you just have to stay focused and attack,” Oppenheim said. “It was all for the kids, it’s our team. Were excited.”

Aspen Supports Kids won four of the first six races in the final, then five of the last six with Oppenheim winning narrowly.

Gile took a handicap advantage in both races with Maple by about a second, winning the first race by 0.13 seconds and the second by 0.94. Gile competes in slaloms more than Maple, who was traditionally an alpine skier before retiring in 2020.

“It’s true, he’s a GS skier and I’m an alpine skier and I retired, but I think it was a really good race between us,” Maple said, before noting that he had taken the prize money for winning. the first handicap place before the tournament.

Former World Cup skier Daron Rahlves finished second in handicap, Puckett third and Cheyenne Brown fourth. Chase Kelly, a senior at Aspen High School and currently competing in FIS slalom, won the eighth-best handicap, highest-ranked “non-pro.”

Professional halfpipe skiers Faulhaber and Ferreira finished 40th and 50th in the handicap, respectively, both competing in their baggy freestyle clothing, as opposed to the tournament’s more common aero racing suits.

Ferreira lost to Puckett, Maple and trailed Rahlves by 0.13 seconds. Faulhaber lost to Gile and Ryan before taking Cook to the wire, even thinking she had taken the win before it was announced she was just 0.09 seconds down. She cobbled together a set of gear, buying skis from David Stapleton and borrowing poles from her little sister.

“Being up against these guys who have done this their whole life is definitely different for me and Alex,” Faulhaber said. “AVSC has done so much for me over the last year so it’s great to be doing something to give back to them and I think they’re putting on such an amazing event so it’s great to be able to do something so fun and so important to the club.”

It was the 13th edition of the Ajax Cup, an event that has brought in an average of $900,000 a year for the program and has topped seven figures in the past. According to AVSC’s 2022 annual report, the program raised $2.5 million in the past calendar year for total revenue of $7.3 million. It has provided $660,371 in direct financial assistance to 33% of its 3,200 athletes, some from as far away as Silt and Rifle.

It was the first time the race had been held at Ajax since 2019, moving to Aspen Highlands over the past two years to better accommodate COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures. As skiers descending the slopes and those waiting to board the gondola watched from the line, it became clear that Ajax was the perfect venue for the event.

“The Ajax Cup is back on Aspen Mountain, where it should be,” Maple said. “It’s good for the club and it’s just a fun place.”



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