Big Sky competition set for early April
By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor
BIG SKY – The Subaru Freeride Series is returning to the Headwaters on Lone Mountain April 2-7. This year the competition has expanded to include snowboard and junior competitors, and will be located at other venues around the mountain, as well.
A Freeride World Qualifer, it will also be the last opportunity for competitors to earn qualifying points toward the 2015 Freeride World Tour. As host to the Junior Freeride World Championships, the event will bring elite ski and snowboard youth from around the world, according to Jessica Kunzer, Marketing and Communications Director for Mountain Sports International, which oversees the tour.
In addition to the Headwaters, other competition venue locations on the mountain be confirmed shortly before the event depending on conditions, Kunzer said.
The first of four such stops on the FWQ tour concluded on Feb. 15 in Crested Butte, Colo. With snow conditions the best Crested Butte had seen all season, the finals were held in a permanently closed area called Hourglass.
Montana athletes were well represented in Crested Butte, with 12 total attending. Bozemanite Kyle Taylor won the men’s ski event, Big Sky locals Scottie Williams, Chance Lenay, Galen Bridgewater, Teresa Keserich and Dan Bartzick also traveled to Crested Butte to compete.
The next stop on the FWQ tour, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, Calif., has been postponed indefinitely due to lack of snow. The skiers will compete in Telluride, Colo. March 20-23, before heading to Big Sky in April.
Simultaneous to the FWQ event in Big Sky, Subaru WinterFest will come to town April 4-6, giving the public a chance to participate. Based out of the main Big Sky Mountain Village, WinterFest is a lifestyle tour celebrating adventure. Also being hosted at numerous other Western ski resorts including Mount Bachelor, Telluride and Mount Hood, the festival will include equipment demos from Nordica and LibTech; activities like freeride clinics, yoga and avalanche beacon drills; and gear giveaways.
SFS dispatch from Crested Butte
Words and photo by Scottie Williams Explore Big Sky Contributor
Crested Butte Mountain Resort and its locals were beyond welcoming to our community of wild freeriders during the first stop of the 2014 Subaru Freeride Series. This winter the term “freerider” will be more commonplace on the tour, as a total unification between extreme skiers and snowboarders was evident at Crested Butte.
Also for the first time on the qualifier tour, athletes were only allowed a visual inspection, studying the venues from below.
Day one of the four-star competition filled Friday morning with stoke, high-fives, and a handful of fear-filled moments. Skiers and snowboarders charged down the Dead End chutes and Body Bag. Lady skiers made an impressive opening statement on the venue, and the men’s fields were filled with heavy hitters.
Bozeman resident and Crested Butte-raised skier Randy Evans stole the show and set the bar high with powerful and aggressive skiing down the steep face, finishing his run by stomping a backflip. His younger brother Matt and their close friend Kyle Taylor, of Bozeman, were the top finishers of the day. The locals offered cold beers and whiskey at the finish line and shot off fireworks.
The top skiers and snowboarders from Friday skied on the steepest and most extreme terrain CB has to offer, the Big Hourglass and Bermuda Triangle, both of which are permanently closed to the public. Fans roared when riders approached the bottom of the venue, where sending it was mandatory.
Matt Evans caused the crowd to hold its breath as he aired the bottom of the venue close to a rock wall. Another local, Tom Runcie put down a unique run and found himself in first place, until Kyle Taylor did the same while breaking off a large slab of snow. Typical Taylor, he stayed on his feet and skied into the finish line. Taylor and Runcie shared the podium with Sickbird winner George Rodney, a 6’3” teenager who aired 60 plus feet Saturday.
The ladies impressed the rowdy fans Saturday, as well. Local Sidney Dickinson took the top spot with a technical run in the fall line. She shared the podium with fellow CB-raised skier Pip Hunt, who barely edged out young Kaytlin Hughes of Hood River, Ore. for second place. Both gals skied impressive lines with poise.
Canada’s John Penfield took top honors for men’s snowboarding. Penfield kept the crowd on its toes as he edged down into the most exposure on the face. Abe Greenspan from the Tahoe area stayed on his A-game for three days, taking second in the two-star on Thursday, landing him a spot on the four-star start list. He proved he deserved it, earning second place and the coveted Sickbird belt buckle. Whitefish native Vincent Remmel rode a technical line into third place.
Another CB local Mary Boddington ripped into first place with an outstanding run and well deserved best score of the day for women’s snowboarding. Tahoe’s Casey Lucas and Iris Lazzareschi finished second and third respectively.
Hats off to Crested Butte and the awesome people who call it home.