Created: 26 January 2022

The first stop of the Futures Tour took place at Mammoth Mountain from January 19-22. Photo: Jacob Banta

The first stop of the 2022 Futures Tour kicked off at Mammoth Mountain last week and proved that the future of snowboarding and freeskiing is indeed bright. An international field of competitors descended upon Mammoth’s Unbound terrain park and pipe with Rikuto Watanabe, Rebecca Flynn, Koyata Kikuchihara, Gaon Choi, Kate Gray, Ruka Ito, and Ben Fethke taking top honors. 

“The Futures Tour is solidifying itself as the next high-level competition tour,” USASA Unbound Series Director Ben Wisner said, “The riding and skiing in halfpipe and slopestyle would rival any World Cup level tour. It was very impressive, the top end were really, really good, and seeing the young kids mix it up and push themself to do better was amazing, it really is the future of our sport and we can see that there is a strong pipeline for development in the US”. Wisner, who is the Director of Freeski and Snowboard Teams at Mammoth and has developed athletes like 2022 Olympians Chloe Kim and Maddie Mastro knows a thing or two about up-and-coming talent. 

The top three out of a field of 101 freeskiers: 1st place - Ruka Ito (Unbound Series ), 2nd place -Nick Geiser (Aspen Snowmass), 3rd place Bode Raffa (Southern Vermont Series)

In the nearly sold-out men’s freeski slopestyle field, 101 men battled it out for the eighteen finals’ spots with men landing double corks both ways and still not making the finals cut. Ultimately, the day belonged to Unbound Series freeskier Ruka Ito who beat out Aspen Snowmass series’ Nick Geiser and Southern Vermont Series skier Bode Raffa for the win. On the women’s side, Rocky Mountain Series' skiers Grace Simek and Alex Thisted went 1-3 and Mammoth local Kate Gray nabbed silver. 

On the snowboarding side of things, Japanese development team rider Rikuto Watanabe beat out east coast riders Connor Cavanagh (Southern Vermont Series) and Nathan Pare (Maine Mountain Series) with impressive runs. On the women’s side, the progression continued with Upper Midwest Snow Series’ Rebecca Flynn putting down back-to-back 360s on the jumps to win her first Futures Tour podium. Unbound Series Gaon Choi and South Tahoe Series rider Freya Hammerlein rounded out the podium.

Women's Freeski Slopestyle podium: 3rd Alex Thisted (Rocky Mountain Series) 1stGrace Simek (Rocky Mountain Series), 2nd Kate Gray (Unbound Series)

Despite the gale force winds on halfpipe competition day, impressive riding and freeskiing went down most notably from Unbound Series Korean native Gaon Choi. At 13 years old, Choi is on track to be one of the next big names in women’s snowboarding with an impressive combination of tricks - switch backside 720 and back to back 900s. She beat out US Rookie team rider Bea Kim and Rocky Mountain Series’ Olivia Lisle who took second and third respectively. On the men’s side Japanese Development Team riders, Koyata Kikuchihara and Takaki Aikawa took first and third and Mammoth local, Levko Fedorowycz grabbed silver. 

Southern Vermont Series Rider, Noah Avallone boosted his way into 7th place. Photo: Mike Avallone

When the freeskiers hit the pipe, Unbound Series’ Kate Gray added a gold to her week's medal collection beating out South Tahoe Series skier Piper Arnold and Hiyori Terasawa from the Rocky Mountain Series. In men’s freeski pipe, Big Mountain West dominated the day with Ben Fethke and Cael McCarthy going 1-2 and Unbound’s Gavin Higashi nabbing bronze. 


The Futures Tour continues with a halfpipe event held at Copper Mountain, CO Saturday, January 29th, as part of the Rocky Mountain Series and then a quick transition to the Big Mountain West series for the Park City Futures Tour Feb1-4.




Rikuto Watanabe (Rocky Mountain Series), Connor Cavanagh (Southern Vermont Series), Nathan Pare (Maine Mountain Series) 

Rebecca Flynn(Upper Midwest Snow), Gaon Choi (Unbound Series), Freya Hammerlein (South Tahoe Series), 


Koyata Kikuchihara (Unbound Series) , Levko Fedorowycz (Unbound Series), Takaki Aikawa (Rocky Mountain Series) 

Gaon Choi (Unbound Series), Bea Kim (Unbound Series), Olivia Lisle (Rocky Mountain Series)



Ruka Ito (Unbound Series ), Nick Geiser (Aspen Snowmass ), Bode Raffa (Southern Vermont Series)

Grace Simek (Rocky Mountain Series), Kate Gray (Unbound Series ), Alex Thisted (Rocky Mountain Series)


Ben Fethke (Big Mountain West), Cael McCarthy (Big Mountain West), Gavin Higashi (Unbound Series)

Kate Gray (Unbound Series), Piper Arnold (South Tahoe Series), Hiyori Terasawa (Rocky Mountain Series) 



Women Freeski Slopestyle
Men Freeski Slopestyle
Women Freeski Halfpipe
Men Freeski Halfpipe


Women Snowboard Slopestyle
Men Snowboard Slopestyle
Women Snowboard Halfpipe
Men Snowboard Halfpipe




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