(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.
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
-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.
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…
Jake 5 comments