No. 1 rookie and No. 1 in the U.S.

McQuinn defends his ‘top dog’ status; Southworth wins 3 at Junior Nationals

Purgatory’s freestyle skiers launched onto the podium last weekend at the USSA Freestyle Junior Nationals in Steamboat Springs.

The event brings together the top 60 United States Ski Association freestyle 18-and-under athletes from across the country.

After he was named rookie of the year and combined champion in the Rocky Mountain division, George McQuinn of the Durango Freestyle Ski Team wrapped up Junior Nationals as the No. 1-ranked combined skier in the nation.

The combined championship was based on placements in moguls, halfpipe and aerials.

McQuinn posted his top scoring run of the year in moguls at Steamboat to help him earn the title.

Teammate Ellen Southworth finished third in the combined scoring.

The Durango High School senior started the week with a bronze medal in halfpipe, then she posted a solid run in moguls. She added a gold medal in aerials to finish third on the combined podium.

Southworth posted the top raw score of all aerialists in the field of both men and women.

The three medals made her the most decorated Purgatory athlete at Junior Nationals.

Other standout performances at Junior Nationals included Natalie Lyon’s silver medal in aerials and fifth in combined.

Hannah Smith recorded a personal best in moguls to earn fourth-place honors in combined.

Shane Ellis added a sixth-place finish for J3 halfpipe, and Natalie Youssef was fourth in J2 aerials.

Meredith Nass of Purgatory Freestyle was unable to compete because of an injury, but she helped support the team as a coaches assistant, photographer and videographer.

Nathan Youssef and Jamie Wanzek qualified for Junior Nationals but were unable to attend.

“What a great way to end the season, especially for George and Ellen,” said Andy Robinson, Junior Nationals coach of the Purgatory Freestyle Team.

“We will be sad to see Ellen move on but are very optimistic about the future freestylers we have coming up through the ranks,” Robinson said in an email to The Durango Herald. “For our younger athletes, they won’t have to look very far to see who the top dog is in the country,” he said, referring to McQuinn.