This past weekend Alyeska Resort held it’s annual Chugach Open, a freeride event displaying the local big mountain talent over several disciplines. The event included alpine skiers, snowboarders, and telemark skiers, as well as the International Freeskiers & Snowboarders Association (IFSA) junior categories (12-14 and 15-18 yrs).
I was fortunate to have been asked to act as IFSA’s liaison and head judge for the event. Joining me in the pit were fellow Alyeska athletes Jason Scheben and Ryan “RD” Davis. Jason is a born & raised Alyeskian, founder of the athlete team, and long time professional skier. RD is a former Chugach Open champion and long time ambassador of all disciplines. It was both these guys first time judging and they knocked it out of the park. Their competition and freeride experience was clearly on par with the direction IFSA would like to take the sport. Also in the judges pit was the Alyeska Resort Events & Mountain Services Manager, Brian “Burntski” Burnett. Brian is no stranger to the pit, as he has been a regular on previous Chugach Open judging panels. I was honored to be in the pit with these guys and appreciate the opportunity.
The Open was not without the usual challenges experienced during events of this kind. In true Chugach form, the projected venues received several feet of snow during the week leading up to the event. This combined with the forecasted weather limited us to our lower elevation venue, the Northface. This venue is by no means a back up, as it provides an arsenal of steep, technical terrain, and is quite the leg burner. We were not blessed with good visibility and were only able to run athletes for one of the 3 possible days scheduled. Thanks to the hard work of the Alyeska ski patrol, events staff, and all of the athletes, we were able to pull of running all competitors through the venue. We even ran all junior competitors twice. A big thanks to everyone involved in making this happen!
All and all, the 2013 Chugach Open was, once again, a success! The level of riding was quite impressive and the interest in such an event brings nothing short of a smile to my face. As the sport continues to grow, I look forward to seeing this event grow with it.
Thank you to all of the competitors, judges, IFSA and to Alyeska for quite the weekend!