Riding high off the enthusiasm of last weekend’s jib academy, the Salomon van, captained by Tommy Ellingson, rolled into the great white north and much colder temperatures of Northern Minnesota. The city of Duluth and Spirit Mountain saw the likes of Simon Dumont, Mike Douglas, John Symms, Mike Clarke, Matt Walker, Andrew Hathaway and Keri Herman play coaches to the nearly 100 kids who came out to participate in this week’s Jib Academy, the largest turnout to date.
Fear of frostbite aside, kids broke into groups and teamed up with their coaches for first chair at 9:00 AM and skied all morning learning new tricks and improving their overall skills with the help of their coach. Spirit Mountain proved to be a worthy learning ground with well set up boxes and rails and a jump line that resorts in Colorado could be proud of.
The morning concluded with all the participants voting for the kid in their group who they thought should move on to finals. As the votes were meticulously calculated, pizza lunch went down in the lodge and many a helmet were signed by the pro coaches. On the way back to the hill, more than once kids were overheard saying incredulously, “I just ate lunch with Simon Dumont,” or, “I sat right next to John Symms.” The stoke level of these kids on being able to ski with some of the their idols is amazing to see. Kyle Ilenda went so far as to give his coach, Matt Walker, a pair of neon pink poles just like his that Matt had been admiring all day.
Finals got underway in the afternoon with the finalists lighting up the jump line in a 45-minute jam session interspersed with poaching pros.
At the end of the day, little Willie Borm, a crowd favorite at 10 years old, and Willis Engelhart tied for first and were both awarded with the coveted invitation to attend the Salomon international team shoot at Mammoth Mountain and compete against other winners from other jib academies. Steve Knuth and Cody Schenkleberg received 2nd and 3rd respectively and were more than amped on their new Salomon set ups.
The Jib Academy theory is simple: Get some of the best riders in the business to take one or two days out of their busy seasons to provide a bunch of kids from all different resorts with the most memorable day of their season, hands down.
Next week Tommy and crew will be in Scranton, Pennsylvania where Sno mountain will try to top the number of attendees that Spirit Mountain provided. Stay tuned.