Sunday, March 15, 2009

(Taos 03/2009) Extreme Freeride Championships

---Update: Ollie Bell uploaded the video of my qualifier run to Vimeo for me!---

Thanks Ollie Bell!

Last week came and went in a blur. The six day journey Nik and I took to New Mexico for the Freeride Championships was completely uncharted territory. New ski area, new event (Freeride World Tour), and a new judging system. Overall it was a very fun experience and something I'd like to do again next season.

Day 1: Leaving Salt Lake
The drive down opened my eyes to a few things:
-There is a 3:1 ratio of Wal-Marts to people in Southern Colorado
-Never eat at the Moab Diner, no matter how good the prices are
-After 8 hours in a car with no radio, you will be convinced that every car on the road is following you
-The night-shift employees at the Chama, NM Chevron station will force you to take magazine surveys if you want to charge your cell phone at the register
-The internet doesn't exist after you pass the La Sal Junction
This doesn't look sketchy at all...

Day 2: Inspection
Any first day at a ski resort is weird, especially when it is for a competition.  You really only ski one area and you analyze it a bunch trying to figure out the best places to score big.  Taos was no exception, especially when the venue changed the first day from West Basin to Kachina Peak.  This changed the hike to the start gate from a 10-minute walk to a 45-minute assault up a ridgeline with 50+ mph winds.  Also, any ski event sponsored by Red Bull is a very good thing.
This hike got old real fast…

Day 3: Qualifier
Qualifier day provided some cool things and some less cool things.
-Kachina Peak is an awesome venue
-Sunshine during your run is always nice
Less Cool:
-Inspecting at 8:00a and having to be back on top of the peak at 9:00a
-Trying to find a place to pee on an exposed ridge with heavy winds
My run went more or less according to plan and I finished 16th (of 54 or so) overall.  Nik got hung up a bit, but managed to beat the cut and finish 35th.
Now that's what I call a Big Mountain Venue!

Day 4: Weather Day
Day 4 was kind of a junk show as it began dumping heavy snow early in the morning and it became clear that it would be next to impossible to run a comp in those conditions.  A weather day was called and ultimately the venue was moved back to West Basin, which left those of us unfamiliar with that area a bit bewildered.
Nik wishing he’d taken more pictures of West Basin when there was sunshine…

Day 5: Finals
Finals was a bit hectic as the conditions kept going from blue bird to complete flat light.  That being said, there was still some major gnar thrown down.
Snowbird local Cliff Bennett took 1st for the men and Michelle Gmitro finished in top position for the women.
I ended up skiing a line in a bit tamer section of the venue as I didn’t know the area too well and ended up 27th.  Nik took his go-to approach for top finishes and hucked about 30 feet off an air at the top and straight-lined the rest of the venue.  He earned himself 19th.

Flat light conditions and tricky snow conditions didn’t stop the event from being an all out throw down-fest.
Day 6: Junk Show Home
Nik and I left Taos, New Mexico around 8:30am with roughly 12 Red Bulls (thanks Taos for having a kick ass sponsor).  We arrived back in Salt Lake City, Utah at about 10:30pm with 2 Red Bulls.
It started fairly normal with a stop over the huge Rio Grande on the way out of town.
If I'd had my skis on I totally could have stomped this.

Nik looking away from the camera all emo and stuff

We took an unscheduled ski break on the way home at Durango’s local ski hill

I sent it in jeans

Nik points it, East Coast style

I make some restricted movement turns

I nail a 10-point spread

Nik goes for a car jib

Thank you for daylight savings for allowing us to get lost in Arches National Park

It the end, it turned out to be a pretty fun journey.  I’ll have some video of the Snowbird comp that just wrapped up a little bit later and I’m considering going for one more this season at Kirkwood this weekend!  Hopefully that will yield some equally cool/weird/crazy photos…



Anonymous The Adventure Channel said...

GREAT report guys!!!

3/17/2009 5:40 PM

Blogger Matthew and Tara said...

I really enjoy your site and I feel like your information is very useful. I recently started a small food storage business and have created a website dedicated to helping people build up their emergency food supply. We were wondering if you would be willing to put a link to our site from yours. Our site is Feel free to check it out and see what you think. You can put the link anywhere you feel that it would not distract from your own information. If this is something that you are interested in please contact me at this email address ( and we would be glad send you some of our product or you can pick an item from
Thanks, Tara

3/20/2009 12:46 PM

Blogger Ski Bike Junkie said...

"Never eat at the Moab Diner, no matter how good the prices are."

Dunno what you ordered at the moab diner, but it must have been a bad night. That place is the best.

3/23/2009 11:09 AM

Blogger mcnallcw said...

post some picks of kirkwood this weekend if you have them. they got dumped on.

3/23/2009 3:18 PM

Blogger JakeCast said...

@Ski Bike Junkie:
I had a Bacon Mushroom Cheeseburger & my buddy had the breakfast plate combo. We both paid the price for the next couple days.

unfortunately, I didn't go to kwood :-/. I bailed at the last minute due to homework. I should have some sweet footy from UT this weekend (24" in the last 24h)

Cheers & glad you guys dugg it!

3/24/2009 12:10 AM


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home