Forever Wild Team Successful at National Championships

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Snowshoe Mountain’s Forever Wild team ventured out to Copper Mountain, Colorado earlier this month for the USASA National Championships. The 2024 event marked Forever Wild’s 3rd year in attendance bringing along 6 snowboarders and 11 skiers. The team came away with 3 snowboard podiums and 6 ski podiums after two weeks of competition.

The competitions began with Snowboard week. The athletes competed in Slopestyle, Half Pipe, Snowboard Cross, Rail Jam, Slalom, and Giant Slalom during the week. Chole Anderson, 7, had a standout performance in her first year of competition. She was able to end her season with a 2nd place in Slalom and a 3rd place in Giant Slalom. “Its just fun. Not as many turns so you go faster,” said Anderson about the Giant Slalom.

Chloe Anderson on the Slalom podium.

Snowboard week also saw a podium finish for Payton Moyer with a 2nd place Slalom finish in her age group, and a 3rd place overall finish for Georgianna Fritz in her age group.

Georgianna Fritz on course.
Payton Moyer on the Slalom podium.

Hailing from Warrenton, VA, the Anderson family makes the 3.5 hour journey to Snowshoe every weekend for practice. Anderson’s love for the sport and for her team can be summed up in three words, “Its just fun.”

The second week of Nationals was reserved for the skiers. Ali Gregory, 9, was able to etch her name into Forever Wild history. She came into the season with a lot of potential after a strong 22/23 season and worked hard to put down a 3rd place run in Slopestyle, the first national slopestyle podium for the Forever Wild team.

Gregory is no stranger to adversity and fought hard for this result, “I wanted to quit because I felt like I wasn’t good enough,” said Gregory.

Fortunately, the Forever Wild coaches are dedicated to each of their athletes, “Bradin took me so he could just like to try to get me where he wanted to go…whenever I did something great he was screaming and cheering for me.”

Ali Gregory on course during Slopestyle.

The ski team also saw various age group podiums from Evelyn Simmons (2nd in Half Pipe, 2nd overall), Isla Zollars (3rd overall), and Nolan Street (3rd overall). Making these results more impressive is that, for a lot of the Forever Wild athletes, the only time they see a half-pipe, let alone a full on 22-foot tall pipe, is at Nationals.

Evelyn Simmons on the half pipe podium.
Isla Zollars on the overall podium.
Nolan Street airs it out during half pipe.

The team is led by coaches Seth Ruckle, Clay Edwards, and Bradin Baum. The coaches work with these athletes week in and week out doing everything from hiking rails in the park to indoor training to gate practice, totaling over 150 hours a season. The results from Nationals show that it pays off. When asked about why he does it, Edwards said, “That very first podium. Seeing that athlete jump off the podium and run to me for a hug with a medal around her neck to now, at this Nationals.”

Ali Gregory stands with the Forever Wild coaches: (left to right) Clay Edwards, Seth Ruckle, and Bradin Baum.

Although a competition team, Forever Wild is about more than the results. The team aims to be competitive at both regional and national competitions but the coaches also work toward the development of personal progression through a sense of family and community and strive to turn their athletes into ambassadors for Snowshoe Mountain beyond the ski hill.

Nolan Street embraces his Coach, Seth, after putting down a solid competition run.

This camaraderie proved vital in securing Gregory’s slopestyle podium, “I have really great friends [on Forever Wild],” said Gregory. “One of my friends, Isla Zollars, she kind of gives me pep talks like five times before every single run.”

As these athletes train throughout the season they are able to build bonds and a trust in one another that can only be built by pushing themselves and having team mates and coaches that provide support when tricks are landed, and more importantly, not landed.

The Forever Wild team is made of driven athletes and passionate coaches. They can be found riding all over the mountain and competing across the region and country. To support Forever Wild, participate in their fundraisers throughout the summer and winter seasons. Give them a follow on Instagram @foreverwildwv and cheer loud when they’re competing at Snowshoe.

Nolan Street lays out a backflip.