Lower Plunge was in prime condition for competition. It is one of the only venues left in freestyle that relies solely on natural snow, 100 percent organic, which makes for huge, soft bumps – classic Telluride conditions.
“It took a huge effort from the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club coaching staff to the shovel massive quantities of snow required to increase snow depth throughout the course and to build up the jump landings,” said Telluride Freestyle Team head coach Caleb Martin. “But athletes from around the state enjoyed really soft conditions without the hard pack base that man-made snow brings. Mother nature cooperated as well, bringing mostly sunny skies throughout the weekend and five inches of fresh snow for Saturday’s competition.”
The course measured 225 meters this year, with an average pitch of 27 degrees, making it a true test of technical skiing. The jumps were certainly intimidating for most skiers, as the drop time, especially off the bottom air, was substantial.
On the first day of open mogul competition team Telluride had an outstanding day, securing the top two finishers on both the women’s and men’s sides. Lindsey Cannon threw down a dominant second run, earning a score of 21.89. Her run was highlighted by a big back-flip-iron cross off the top jump, followed by crisp, fast skiing through the middle section, and a huge 360 off the bottom jump. Both her runs were the fastest times down the course of the day.
“It’s always tough not to put a little more pressure on one’s self when skiing on your home turf,” Martin said. “Lindsey took it all in stride and I was proud of the way she didn’t back off her air package on the challenging Lower Plunge course.”
Keaton McCargo scored a 19.17 to earn second place, once again proving that dynamic turns and fast skiing account for most of the score. While her double-twister on the top, and iron cross-spread off the bottom air were taken up big, the degree of difficulty wasn’t enough to match Cannon.
Zak Watkins edged Telluride teammate Wade Parkinson in the men’s competition, by a mere tenth of a point, 22.75 to 22.65. While Parkinson had the highest raw score (turns and air), Zak skied the course a second faster, which was enough to take the victory.
Both athletes demonstrated why they are knocking on the door of making the U.S. national team. With Watkins throwing a back-full (a back flip with a full twist) and Parkinson launching a D-Spin (an inverted 720) off the top airs, and both athletes stomping huge back flip-iron crosses off the bottom, they both have the type of air packages may athletes brought to the Olympics over the weekend.
“It was super exciting to see Zak and Wade throw down on LP this weekend,” Martin said. “They both rose to the challenge and offered the local crowd some spectacular skiing.”
The Telluride skiers had a tougher time as a team on the second day of competition. Martin said he thought they might have been a little tired after training a hard week of training coming into the weekend, with hopes of taking advantage of the home course.
Cannon did not compete on the second day of competition as she, along with Watkins and Parkinson, has a big three weeks of competition coming up on the North American Cup (NorAm) tour, and the coaches advised her not to ski all three days of competition. After earning a first round bye in the dual moguls, due to her national ranking, Cannon had a commanding lead in her first dual, but missed her landing on the bottom jump and inexplicably crossed the centerline, an automatic disqualification in dual moguls.
McCargo struggled with the bottom jump on day two of open moguls, and made some costly errors on the last few turns coming into the finish. But in dual moguls she was out for redemption and ripped her way into the final round where she met Vail’s Kristi Waring, one her biggest rivals, and laid down a smoking run to edge Waring 13 to 12 and win the competition.
Kealey Zaumseil had a great weekend, launching huge 360s off the top jump, and skiing fast, aggressive runs.
“Kealey is a tremendous jumper, there were very few women throwing 360s off the top jump,” Martin said. “And not only was she throwing the difficult maneuver, be going huge while doing so.”
Nicki Jones and Ryan Parkinson have been pushing each other all year, as the good friends joke together about being “the best mogul skier at Telluride High School” on any given competition day. On day one, Parkinson edged Jones, scoring an 18.46 to Jones’ 18.35. Parkinson scored a little higher on his turns while Jones skied a little faster; both skiers’ runs were highlighted by huge top jumps. Jones stomped a solid Licoln Loop (side flip), while Parkinson stuck his back flip-iron cross. Both skiers had a tough second day of competition as Jones out-jumped the landing on the top jump and crashed in both runs, while Parkinson missed the take off on his 360 off the bottom air, amongst other mistakes.
In dual moguls Parkinson won his first two duals to get into the round of eight where he lost a tight match to Vail’s Andre Lane. After beating Breckenridge’s Colin Lang, Parkinson faced his older brother Wade in a dual for fifth and sixth. The elder Parkinson put it to his younger brother, earning fifth while Ryan took sixth. Bridger Johnson put together a clean run on the first day of competition, cracking the top 30.
“Bridger has the skiing package to challenge Ryan and Nicki and be consistent top-20 skier,” Martin said, “but unfortunately he has been struggling to put down his best runs in competition.” Benni Solomon placed in the top twenty on both days of open moguls competition, while also earning two second-place finishes in the highly competitive M3 category, despite being a year younger than the rest of the M3 skiers.
“Benni is on fire right now, he’s skiing with great confidence and putting together his best skiing when it matters most,” Martin said.
Solomon, along with Morgan Osborne and Zach Nunn should all be M4s, but as they have all moved up from the Devo (development) Series to the Competitive Series a year early, they are counted as M3s, the lowest age group the Competitive Series gives awards for.
Osborne and Nunn both had trouble putting together clean runs this weekend as Nunn made some costly mistakes while exiting the top jump and Morgan had a tough time keeping it together over the roll about halfway down the middle of the course where the Plunge drops from 26-30 degrees.
Martin also joined in the fun this weekend, entering the first day of competition, and earning sixth place. Martin’s run was met with a nice response from the local crowd. Martin brought a refreshing old-school flavor to the competition, launching a huge 180-iron cross-180-spread off the top air his second run, and a classic daffy-twister-spread off the bottom air.
Zak Watkins: Open Moguls 1st overall, 1st MS / Open Moguls 2nd overall, 2nd MS / Dual Moguls : Did not compete
Wade Parkinson: Open Moguls 2nd overall, 2nd MS / Open moguls: din not compete / Dual Moguls: 5th
Nicholas Jones: Open Moguls 13th Overall, 4th M2 / Open Moguls 54th Overall, 20th M2 / Dual Moguls: tie for 17th
Ryan Parkinson: Open Moguls: 12th Overall, 3rd M2 / 20th Overall, 8th M2 / Dual Moguls: 6th
Bridger Johnson: Open Moguls: 28th overall, 10th M2 / Open Moguls 55th Overall, 21st M2/ Dual Moguls: tie for 17th
Benni Solomon: Open Moguls: 19th Overall, 2nd M3 / Open Moguls 15th Overall, 2nd M3 / Dual Moguls: tie for 17th
Zachary Nunn: Open Moguls: 39th overall, 9th M3 / 41st Overall, 10th M3 / Dual Moguls: tie for 32nd
Morgan Osborne: Open Moguls: 49th overall, 15th M3 / Open Moguls 39th Overall, 9th M3 / Dual Moguls: Did not compete
Lindsey Cannon: Open Moguls 1st overall, 1st FS / Open moguls did not compete / Dual Moguls tie for 9th
Keaton McCargo: Open Moguls: 2nd Overall, 1st F3 / Open Moguls 7th Overall, 4th F3 / Dual Moguls: 1st
Kealey Zaumseil: Open Moguls 10th Overall, 4th F3/ Open Moguls 6th Overall, 3rd F3/ Dual Moguls 9th
Seven Telluride freestylers have competed in two NorAm events so far this winter, Lake Placid, NY on January 29-30, and Killington, VT on February 5-6.
U.S. Team members and brothers Joe and Jimmy Discoe led the Telluide skiers on the men’s side in Killington, earning seventh and eighth overall, followed by Wade Parkinson in ninth, and Zak Watkins in twelfth.
On the women’s side, Lindsey Cannon finished ninth. Lane Stoltzner, who now skis with Steamboat, finished 26th.
In the first NorAm event of the season in Lake Placid, Stoltzner finished 13th on the women’s side, while Cannon settled for 20th. Jimmy Discoe finished seventh and Watkins 14th. Joe Discoe and Parkinson both struggled; Joe finished 57th, while Parkinson finished with an rns (run not scored).
Watkins earned second overall in the duals event in Killington, behind U.S. Team member Jeremy Cota. The rest of the Telluride skiers struggled. Joe Discoe and Parkinson both blew out in their qualifying runs. Jimmy Discoe did not compete due to soreness in his back.
On the women's side, Lindsey Cannon lost her first dual against Brittany Loweree and finished 11th. Lane Stoltzner finished 20th.
Each NorAm event carries tremendous weight, as the top male and female finisher will earn U.S. Team spots for next year. The next event NorAm event, scheduled for this weekend in Revelstoke, Canada, has been canceled due to poor snow conditions. The next stop will be in Apex, Canada, followed by the final NorAm event of the season in Steamboat on March 4-5.