TELLURIDE – A new wave of big mountain skiers entered into the realm of giants last weekend (Feb.5-6), in the Telluride Freeskiing Qualifier. The top four women and top six men are now pre-qualified for the remainder of the 2010 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour. They now have the opportunity to get their skills noticed, gain Tour points and, hopefully, wrangle some sponsors.
The competition between the men for first and second was quite the nail-biter throughout the two-day competition, and Telluride skier Travis Wolfe nabbed first place Saturday – by a hair, with a 37.67 to Whit Boucher’s 36.33 second-place finish.
“I’m so happy,” said Wolfe after the awards in Telluride’s Mountain Village. “I came here confident and had lots of support.”
Wolfe’s total combined score from Friday and Saturday was 77.00, closely followed by Boucher’s 76.90. Wolfe skied the same line both days: an extremely technical line, with several impressive billy-goat drops followed by a 20-foot drop off a rocky face. The judges enjoyed being able to compare Wolfe’s highly advanced technical skiing with Boucher’s, fluid, aggressive turns and huge cliff hits.
Both men stomped this weekend, in their own way.
“I surprised myself,” said Boucher of his first podium and newly pre-qualified status.
Another interesting style to watch was Connery Lundin’s, of Squaw Valley, Calif., who used his racing skills to create fast, smooth turns and effortless transitions into several cliff hits. Lundin skied another excellent third place run Saturday. Because Wolfe was pre-qualified, Boucher captured the first pre-qualified spot, followed by Lundin, Ryan Hawks, of Grand Targhee, Wyo.; Kent Hyden, of Alta, Utah (who also received the Sickbird Award); Chason Russell, of Telluride, and Nick Fountain, of Sugarloaf, Me.
Two-year consecutive winner of the Tour Qualifier, Claudia Bouvier, of Vail, had a great comeback Saturday, making up over 11 points from the day before to grab the top spot on the podium for the women. Bouvier’s run started strong as she whipped out of a tight cornice on the top aspect of the venue, Mountain Quail, and then charged down a frozen waterfall between the trees in Review, cut a hard right, hit a 15-footer, and then sent it straight into a ten-footer, absolutely stomping it.
Guest judge and seven-year Freeskiing World Tour competitor Cliff Bennett, positioned at the top of the venue because of poor visibility, said Bouvier looked the best of both the men and women. “She flashed down the top,” Bennett said.
Louise Lintilhac, of Stowe, Vt., showed everyone just what it takes to ski the East, taking second place for the women and qualifying for the 2010 Tour. Newcomer to the Tour – and a winner from day one, Sasha Dingle, 21, of Bridger Bowl, Mont., showed off a solid run, heading looker’s left into Review, hitting a couple cliff drops, and ending with a nice 10-foot stomp into the finish. This was Dingle’s first Tour competition; for her great first showing, she was awarded The North Face Young Gun Award.
In fourth – and the final woman to pre-qualify for the tour – was Telluride’s own Kelli Gleason, who skied a memorable line, with aggressive carving, high speeds and a couple little cliff hits into the finish.
After Telluride, the Subaru FWT continues to the legendary steeps of Crested Butte, Colo., and then onto the famed Cirque at Kirkwood, California. Long known as the premier venue on the Subaru FWT, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort will host the 2010 Subaru Freeskiing World Championships, with the tour leaders battling for top positions in the final runs of the year down the infamous North Baldy.
For more information visit freeskiingworldtour.com.
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