Without a doubt, we’re in the golden age of youth freeskiing. I mean come on, have you seen how the kids are riding these days? Well, if you haven’t, check out the full recap of the 2023 Junior Freeride World Championships. The event returned for the sixth time to the legendary Quellspitze venue in Kappl, Austria, where the best skiers and snowboarders worldwide under the age of 18 cranked it to 11. This event has kickstarted the careers of many professional athletes, including rising FWT stars Max Palm, Maxime Chabloz and Ross Tester. This year, the next generation showed up in force, including snowboarders Mia Jones and 2021 TGR Grom Comp Winner Lila Yeoman as well as our very own TGR Optics Team athletes Wyatt Gentry, Tucker Carr and Marcus Goguen.
All smiles on the podium for the U18 ski men! | Luke Gentry photo.
Canadian Marcus Goguen stormed out of the gates with a couple of huge, steezy clean airs, completing the top section in no time. But it was his entry into the halfpipe feature that will be remembered for some time, throwing an unfathomably large cork 360 to bolts. He wasn’t finished there, hucking himself off two more big cliffs before the finish corral. The win earned him a FWT23 Wild Card spot for Andorra and Kicking Horse. Germany's Tiemo Rolshoven and USA's Wyatt Gentry finished second and third, respectively, each with solid runs.
France's Kea Chretien took the win with a fast, fluid run from top to bottom. He started with a small air out of the gates, then sent a huge air off the "mushroom cliff" while keeping the fluidity and speed maxed out to the finish line. Austrian Vaughn Hardwick and USA's Max Baker completed the podium.
USA's Lila Yeoman displayed her big mountain prowess by choosing a gnarly line with steep, technical terrain. She showed incredible sluff control in the thick of it, before boosting out into the wide-open terrain below and into victory. France's Eléonore Ansanay Alex and USA's Kaiya Hanepen rounded off the podium.
France's Zoé Delzoppo showed technique and style throughout her run to claim the win. Her skiing looked fluid and in control, starting with an air at the top of the course, before she shredded the ‘halfpipe’ and sent two airs deep in a row with little hesitation. France's Mila De Le Rue – daughter of freeride legend Xavier De Le Rue– finished in second place, and USA's Tia Schenk finished third.
The FJWC is the first time competitors don't get to ski the venue beforehand, instead relying on a visual inspection from afar. | Luke Gentry photo.
Flashy bases require some showing off. | Luke Gentry photo.
One big happy family. | Luke Gentry photo.
TGR Optics Squad representing in Kappl. | Luke Gentry photo.
Wyatt Gentry and Tucker Carr took a little sojourn to ski under some iconic peaks post competition. | Luke Gentry photo.
We caught up with Wyatt Gentry and Marcus Goguen after the competition. Here’s what they had to say:
The experience that I had at Worlds was crazy. I was able to ski and learn from the best young skiers from around the world and use all of what I have learned to figure out my line down the venue. It was a lot different from home because it is a visual inspection only and you can’t get on the venue. The only way to choose your line is through photos and looking from the bottom. My coach and I took three days to be happy with my line. On comp day, it was crazy to be in the start gate with a camera right in my face and a drone above my head. I skied my run and was so excited just to make it to the bottom I didn’t even care where I ended up in the rankings. I stood in front of the camera until I got my score and was placed 3rd overall. Being on the podium was an achievement that I have wanted for five years and I finally was able to reach my goal.
- Wyatt Gentry