The Mountain Times

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KMS Freestyle Team dominates ECS Eastern Championships at Stratton

The Killington Mountain School (KMS) Freestyle Team dominated the ECS Eastern Championships at Stratton Mountain Feb. 23-24, collecting multiple podiums as well as three end-of-year top awards. The men owned four of the stop five spots in moguls, despite the student-athletes being some of the youngest in the field. Olivia Giaccio, of Chittenden, was named Female Rookie of the year for Eastern Freestyle. Both Christina O'Brien, of Pittsfield, and Trevor Wahl, of Furlong, Penn., were named Most Improved Female and Male, respectively. Approximately 50 men and 30 women represented the best mogul skiers in the East at the invitation-only event.

"Once again we sent a strong field to the Eastern Division Championships, taking home many top finishes and end-of-year awards," said Matt Gnoza, director of action sports for KMS. "The men established themselves as the big four of mogul skiing to come, with the oldest just being 15. It's pretty impressive. They worked very hard all season and at different times they had different successes. But this time as a team pulled it together."

Abe Studler, a 15-year-old from Brant Lake, N.Y., took the top spot on the podium in moguls followed by a fourth place finish in duals. Wahl, also 15, took second in men's moguls and followed up with a third place finish in duals. Mendon's Sam Gnoza, 14, just missed the podium in fourth followed by Myles Frendel, 15 of Mahwah, N.J., in fifth. Third place was won by 21-year-old Dylan Lovell of the University of Vermont.

"Trevor's climb to the top this year was unprecedented, climbing 80 spots on the list," said Gnoza about Wahl's most improved award. "In 20 years of coaching, I've never seen anyone climb that high quite that quickly. He's maturing as a skier and understanding what he needs to do to climb the ladder. He's focusing on the skiing instead of the results. In that process, he's finding the results."

For the women, Giaccio took third in moguls followed by Georgia Wood in seventh. In duals, Kat Spilman landed in silver, followed by Hannah Soar in sixth and Wood in eighth.

"Olivia started the year very determined to do a run with a very high level of difficulty," said Gnoza. "The run was ready and it earned itself a third place on the podium, contributing to her rookie of the year award. Christina's commitment to training and more time on the snow this year enable her to maximize her potential. It's been a great year for the team."

The Eastern Championship Series, the "A" level, qualifies skiers for national level events including Juniors Olympics, Junior Worlds, US Freestyle Championships, and the US Selection Events. Eastern Freestyle has produced many US Freestyle Ski Team, US Open and X-Game podium winners and Olympic athletes.

Killington Mountain School is a fully approved Vermont independent school whose mission is to inspire students to pursue excellence in academics and athletics in a culture that promotes integrity, leadership, responsibility, and respect. KMS freestyle alumni include: Bryan Zemba '10, 2013 U.S. Ski Team Member and Junior World Freestyle Champion; Michael Morse '99, 2010 Olympian and 2008 National Champion in moguls and dual moguls; Evan Dybvig '97 - Nagano and Salt Lake Olympics, Two-time National Champion; Luke Westerlund '98 - 2004 US National Mogul Champion; Evan Rapps '96 - (Rapps skied for the U.S. Freestyle Team, but is known for his musical interests and a successful career in the skiing community as one of the innovators in the freeride movement.) and Olympian and 4 Time World Pro Tour Champion Chuck Martin.

To learn more about alpine, snowboard, freestyle, and freeride training and opportunities, visit www.killingtonmountainschool.org or call 802.422.KMS1.