Road to FWT 2020 - Snowboard Highlight
Which Region 2 male snowboarder will clinch the IFSA Overall title for Region 2 in 2019? The winner will take home great glory and a spot on the 2020 Freeride World Tour athlete roster. Coach Brennan Meztler breaks it down.
Words by IFSA Certified Coach - Brennan Metzler
It’s crunch time in the Freeride qualifier world, as top snowboarders from the Americas Region head to Kirkwood Resort for the sixth and final FWQ 4* event of the season. Three men are in contention for the overall Region 2 Americas Title - making next week’s competition on the infamous “Cirque” all the more dramatic. Let’s take a closer look at America’s Top 3 Men, and find out what it will take for each to earn a spot on the 2020 Freeride World Tour.
Brian Stenerson, 31, Lake Tahoe, California
America’s top qualifier has been on a competitive tear the past two seasons, taking 1st or 2nd in five FWQ 4* events. Despite winning two 4* events in 2018, Stenerson finished second in the Americas Region underneath FWT-Qualifying rider, Christopher Galvin. The disappointment of being runner-up has proven highly motivating for Stenerson. His riding has been fast, fluid, and high-flying this season, earning consistent results. He’s in the driver’s seat heading into Kirkwood, with a 1st and two 2nd place finishes in 4* events. And, as a Tahoe local, Kirkwood is one of his homefield venues. Stenerson has nothing to lose on The Cirque - look for big cliffs and a freestyle move or two during his run.
Blake Moller, 18, Steamboat, Colorado
America’s #2 qualifier is a young, raw, and superbly talented Freerider. Moller has deep snowboarding roots, taking a USASA overall title and competing at the 2017 Junior World Championships in Half Pipe. Despite limited Freeride experience (2019 is Moller’s first full season competing), he grew up chasing his brother Grifen, Freeride World Tour skier, around the mountain. The result of this diverse snowboard upbringing is an unchecked and free thinking approach to Freeride. He is the only rider to win two FWQ 4* events this season, yet remains in second behind Stenerson due to 4th place finishes at Kicking Horse and Crystal. Moller is motivated by seeking out the limits of Freeride snowboarding, and The Cirque has more than enough terrain for him to showcase that vision. Look for a high speed run full of large airs and transfers from this inspiring rookie rider.
Holden Samuels, 19, Bozeman, Montana
America’s #3 qualifier is a rookie by definition, with the Freeride resume of a veteran. Samuels took the overall junior title in North America in 2016-2017, winning four out of five competitions. He earned 2nd place at the 2018 Freeride Junior World Championship with an impressive run involving four airs into variable conditions. Simply put, Holden rides strong. He takes features large, stomps improbable landings, and has one of the best backflips in the game. His years of riding at Big Sky in Montana have given him comfort with exposure and speed. Samuels needs to win at Kirkwood to take the overall title. Look for fast riding, large inverts, and a bold line from this young Freerider.
Scenarios in which Stenerson takes the overall title:
(2) Moller finishes out of top three AND Holden doesn’t win
Scenarios in which Moller takes the overall title:
(2) Take 2nd and Stenerson does not win
(3) Take 3rd and Stenerson does not win
Scenario in which Samuels takes the overall title:
(1) Win and Moller does not podium