Will Dujardin: Coaching the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team
Coaching the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) and Passing on the Crested Butte Freeride Tradition
When I moved to Crested Butte almost 8 years ago, I didn’t see this coming, but I guess it doesn’t surprise me. After competing on the Freeskiing World Tour with sporadic success for 2 years, I started coaching the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team (CBMST) with the then head coach of the Freeride team, Woody Lindenmeyr. I kept competing through the transmutations of names from the FWT (Freeskiing World Tour), to the other FWT (Freeride World Tour) FWQ (Freeride World Qualifier) with some other acronyms like SFS (Subaru Freeride Series) and IFSA (International Freeskiers and Snowboarders Association) sprinkled in there. Coaching the CBMST, however, has become my priority each winter. I still ski for myself in my free time and try to represent my sponsors Strafe Outerwear, Spy Optic, CAST Touring, Pret Helmets, and the lovely Crested Butte Mountain Resort through photo shoots, edits, and a competition or two when the coaching schedule allows. The bottom line is that skiing is fun and I look at it as my responsibility to make sure the local 12-18 year old athletes are pushing themselves in the right way to maximize fun, progression, and safety. This goes hand in hand with being a respectful member of our ski community and looking to represent our little valley in southwest Colorado the best way possible.
CBMST at Snowbird IFSA Nationals
The CBMST has truly become an elite skiing and snowboarding development program since its inception in the 2008-09 season. It now boasts 145 total athletes and consistently has athletes competing nationally in the Freeride and Racing disciplines. Starting with a Jr. Devo option for 7 and 8 year olds, the Devos from 9-11 year olds and the Comp Team for 12-18 year old athletes, the program focuses on the fundamentals of skiing and riding to first create true skiers and snowboarders, and then allow the athletes to progress into specific disciplines. When Woody Lindenmeyr became the Director of the CBMST after my first two years as a freeride coach, I transitioned into the head-coaching role for the freeride team back in the 2012-13 season.
CBMST skier in Third Bowl here at Crested Butte Mountain Resort
I feel very fortunate to be able to train with the CBMST on not only a truly technical and ridiculously fun mountain, but also a real birthplace of freeride (among a few other sweet resorts). The Crested Butte Extremes competition has had names from US Freeskiing Championships to 4-Star FWQ Crested Butte, but whatever the name it has been the longest-running freeride competition in North America for 24 years. This town lives and breathes freeride. The community always comes out to support athletes from near and far across western North America and the globe as they try to master famous venues like Headwall, Staircase, Dead End Chutes, and the legendary Hourglass. Our north facing terrain over technical steeps is always skiing well throughout the winter whether you’re skiing a powder cycle or under the sunny bluebird high pressure systems.
Podium finish at Crested Butte Mountain Resort IFSA Regionals
The best part about coaching is that the junior athletes I coach is, despite common warranted and unwarranted perceptions of teenage immaturity, energy, and focus, these kids get it. We are out here because skiing is our life. Skiing on Mt. Crested Butte is as fun as it is challenging and nothing can be taken for granted. You have to work hard to play hard; if you want to ski and snowboard for the rest of your life, whether recreationally or professionally, you have to make smart decisions in a snap instant and in the long term. The future of the CBMST has so much in store for the young shredders in the Gunnison Valley and I am honored to be a part of it. I hope to continue to learn as much from the athletes in Crested Butte as I can teach and pass on to them.
Photos and blog provided by Will Dujardin and Petar Dopchev. You can keep up with Will and the CBMST on westelkproject.com