For the Baker City Herald

When most people think of skiing they picture a peaceful mountainside covered with snow and a skier smoothly carving his way down the slope.

This is definitely not the image local youth are giving to the fast-growing winter sport.

Skiing has recently taken on a new look and many are working hard to revamp the skiing scene at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort northwest of Baker City.

The new movement, dubbed free skiing, incorporates all aspects of skiing including aerial jumping, super steep big mountain skiing, and half pipe maneuvers.

Rather than specializing their skills, like racers, a true free skier is equally comfortable in the air or in deep powder. The free skiers forte is versatility.

In the words of local skier Scott Fraser, Free skiing just means that you ski everything.

Capitalizing on the rebirth of skiings popularity, local sports store owner Dave Daffer has organized a team of local free skiing youth. The Flagstaff Freeriders, composed of seven skiing members and one snowboarder, have taken Anthony Lakes by storm.

Four of the teams members, Skip Hinton, Aaron Goodman, Scott Fraser and Cody Mawhinney, attend Baker High School. The other four members are Neil Fletcher, Greg Moutsanides, Luke Brown and Dennis Mawhinney.

Team members are selected for varying reasons. Although exceptional skiing ability is emphasized, other factors do contribute to selection.

In regard to team selection, Daffer said, Most of these guys are very talented athletes who didnt fit into the traditional sports setting. When I picked the members for the team, ability was a factor. But what I was really looking for was people who had a good attitude and who wanted to see how much they could do for the sport of skiing.

Through the creation of the team many different goals have arisen. Before team members could join they were required to sign a contract that emphasizes such things as devotion to the sport, attending practice, and following the resorts rules.

Another very important part of the teams philosophy involves the relationship between skiers and snowboarders. Under no circumstances are team members allowed to create a rift between the two sports.

Daffer, the teams sponsor, said: Were trying to improve the image of skiing, not knock down other sports. I see the team as an opportunity to revamp the sport of skiing.

Since the teams creation, members have been given much of the responsibility of organizing resort events such as the Skier Cross races and the Big Air competition.

The team works with the Anthony Lakes staff to make the resorts terrain more challenging and diverse. The lodge management has put a lot of trust in the members of the team, allowing them to experiment with different and new ideas, and to work on projects that would not have been allowed before the creation of the team.

The Freeriders seem to be having a great time, and they are truly changing the way people think about skiing at Anthony Lakes. They are also giving the next generation of free skiers a goal to work toward.

Through their dedication to the sport of skiing, the Freeriders are truly providing a new niche for local skiers to fill.