WORLD FREESKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS
The weather improved for the final day of the 2009 Subaru World Freeskiing Championships at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, enabling the competitors to get up onto The Headwall and into some big Alaskan lines. After a long day of waiting, the skies cleared and the sun came out for the final stop on the 2009 Freeskiing World Tour (FWT). A total of 39 competitors qualified for the invitation only event, and in the end, Tim Dutton of Squaw Valley, California, and Rebecca Selig of Snowbird, Utah, stood atop the podium.
Alyeska Resort once again delivered the powder, with over 11 inches of fresh snow falling in the last 24 hours. Alyeska Ski Patrol flew in a helicopter to the top of The Headwall to prepare for today’s event, keeping a close eye on the snowpack after triggering avalanches during their control work. The goal of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour is to showcase the best terrain of each host resort, but consideration is always given to weather, safety, and snow conditions. Once patrol gave the green light, competitors hiked up the boot pack of the 1,000-foot vertical face for their inspection run, getting a chance to scope their lines on the way up. Clouds were intermittent during the inspection, but blue sky pushed in, allowing the helicopter to shuttle the competitors back up to the top of the venue for their final runs. “The heli ride was awesome,” said Crystal-Rose Lee, “I got to sit in the front seat with Crystal Wright.” Wright also said the lift to the top got her “fired up”.
The four competition judges use five categories to decide the winner of FWT events: line choice, fluidity, control, aggression/energy and form/technique. Line choice is the first score the judges decide, and all following scores are directly related to that line choice score. Each category is worth 10 points, with a total possible score of 50 points.
A total of 9 women competed in the final, leading off with some incredible runs. Rebecca Selig dropped straight into an area of exposed rock known as the Wedge, skiing confidently to win her first event on the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour and $3,500 in prize money. “For some reason, I knew I was going to win.” She said with a smile, “This place was just meant to be.” Tour leader Crystal Wright of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, finished second for the women, attacking the fall line and hitting three big airs linked together with smooth turns. “I’m stoked,” she said, “I don’t care how I placed, I did this for myself.” Last year’s champion, Crystal-Rose Lee from Whistler, British Columbia, ended up in third place with a fluid line, moving well from feature to feature while holding on to her speed. Ariana Stufano also from Whistler, British Columbia, was awarded The North Face Young Gun Award, which recognizes young talent in Freeskiing, for fluid style and consistent performances.
A total of 29 men rode the helicopter up to the start venue, reversing the order of the finish from Day One, and Tim Dutton emerged on top. Coming off his win in Kirkwood at the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships, Dutton sent an aggressive line, airing over rocks and skiing confidently through exposure and scored the points he needed to become the World Freeskiing Champion along with the $5,000 prize money. Lars Chickering-Ayers of Vermont ended up in second after picking his way through the rocks at the top of the run and straight lining through the chowder. Frenchman Julien Lopez placed third, blazing through the exposure on the top and pulling a huge air off a cliff while making it all look so easy. Near the Subaru finish arch he pulled a backflip for the appreciative crowd.
Making headlines all season long, consistency paid off for both Crystal Wright and Julien Lopez as they won their first FWT overall titles respectively.
Dylan Crossman of Alta won the Backcountry.com Sickbird Award for his fluid jump turns through tight, exposed rocks with controlled high-speed exit. The coveted Backcountry.com Sickbird buckle is an award, which is given out at the end of each FWT event, to the athlete with the most spirited run. These runs usually include super-human talent and agility.
The John Nicoletta Freeskiing Scholarship will be presented this weekend. The $3,500 award will go towards the skier that best represents John’s focus and dedication to the sport of Freeskiing.
Thousands tuned in to watch Mountain Sports International’s live webcast of the Subaru Freeskiing World Championships from Alyeska, on www.freeskiingworldtour.com, www.newschoolers.com, www.backcountry.com, www.powder.com, www.espn.com, www.doglotion.com and www.theskichannel.com. Live coverage of the best freeskiing in the world can be viewed from the comfort of your desk chair. MSI’s content creation team will be producing and posting same-day, world-class photography on its newly redesigned website, www.freeskiingworldtour.com and media partners www.powder.com and www.skipressworld.com