Today, January 5, 2010, marked not only an important qualifying day of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, but also a record breaking amount of big mountain bangers from all over the U.S.—even the East Coast had some representation, as well as a couple skiers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand—trekked to Telluride to show the world just what they can do. Over 130 people showed up at yesterday’s registration, hoping to squeeze into the already full Qualifier, said Sarah Pinsoneault, the registration and athlete communications liaison for Mountain Sports International.
Skiing fluid, fast runs and stomping landings today was key for up and coming (unsponsored) athletes. The most important thing: stay on your feet. Any fall, however short it may be, is deemed an automatic disqualification. The objective for these athletes is to make to the Finals, January 6, 2010, as the top four women and top six men at the end of the day tomorrow will be pre-qualified for the rest of the 2010 Tour. It was their chance to shine.
Several of them shined more brightly than others; starting with the men, Whit Boucher, of Vail, CO, in first, with a 40.57 score, ran second for the men and raised the bar right off the bat. Boucher skied a fast, fluid line on the top of the venue, followed by a 30-plus-foot cliff hit. In second, was Travis Wolfe, of Telluride, CO, with a 39.33, who skied a strategic rocky cliff line, which included lots of technical hop-turns and billy-goating. Behind Wolfe, in third, was Connery Lundin, of Squaw, Calif., with a 35.67, a former racer, who skied the venue like it was just some more gate practice; his turns were fluid, controlled, fast, and lead into several smooth cliff hits. In fourth, was Chason Russell, also of Telluride, with a solid 35.17.
Many men today opted to take a rocky, tight, tree line on looker’s left, similar to Wolfe’s without as much success. Many of the men rag-dolled down cliffs that they intended to hop-turn down, one athlete, Ed Dujardin, of Crested Butte, CO, took a near-fatal 40-foot plunge to hardpack snow. Dujardin emerged from the trees 15-feet above were he intended to ski down and had no choice, but send himself off the cliff. After his landing, which he nearly made, he tomahawked over two large rocks, which resulted in a torn MCL and a ride to the bottom in a ski patrol sled.
For the women, Sasha Dingle, of Bridger Bowl, MT, skied the best women’s line of the day with a top score of 32.53, followed by Alexis DuPont, of Sun Valley, Idaho, in second, who launched off a 15-foot cliff early in her run and earned her a score of 32.17, behind her, in third, was Louise Lintilhal, of Stowe, VT, who skied a solid line and captured a flat 32-point score, followed by Karina Falck-Pederson, of Norway, in fourth, who stomped a fast, aggressive run with 31.57.
The women’s runs that stood out most were those that were creative lines, or those that showcased non-stop high-speed smooth skiing.
Tomorrow, these top athletes, plus an additional 52 athletes, the top 14 women and 44 men will advance to Finals and ski their best line’s down a spiny area between Mountain Quail and Dihedral Chute to vie for a pre-qualified spot on the Tour.
Stay tuned for more updates, pictures of videos.