Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jackson Hole Freeskiing World Tour

This post is a bit later, but better late than never! From January 27th - 29th Jackson Hole hosted the Freeskiing World Qualifier event. This was the first freeskiing/big mountain comp I have ever done, so my goal more than anything was to learn the ropes and not fall. Also, I had never skied Jackson before, so this really was an adventure for me. 

Jackson Valley Inversion

Start gate

Casper bowl was the venue for day one. This is definitely some of the sicker inbounds terrain I have seen, and I would love to get back up there and just get to ski it. Having never skied Jackson before I don't really know what the weather is usually like there, but it definitely seemed really warm for January. This had some interesting implications, the upper, steeper part of the venue was sufficiently shaded from the sun, but the lower flatter part of the venue received a solid baking. Basically what this meant is that almost all the landings themselves harbored good snow, but the run-outs were all really really fast and hard. I suspect this is why so many people fell. They landed big lines with a fair amount of speed, then came zooming into the hard, fast moguls and exploded in many different extraordinary ways.

Day 1 Venue - Skiers Left

Day 1 Venue - Skiers Right

The picture above shows the zone that the top 5 men (and many others) skied. The large cliff in the middle was also the beginning of probably at least 10 separate rag-dolling events.

Matt Hamilton - Day 1

My Line

I ended up getting 22nd on the first day. Which was only disappointing cause the cutoff for the second day was 21st. In retrospect, I skied a little too easy of a line, but I am OK with that considering it was my first comp, and more than anything else I just wanted to see how comps are judged and skied.

Matt Krawczuk - Day 1

Day 1 Results: (Click for full size)

Day 2 Venue
The venue for the second day was the Tower 3 chutes, including this awesome permanent closure above. I'm really jealous of everyone who got to ski it. Just like day 1, the runout was a nice hard mogul field, which I think in a way is a good thing because it really requires the athletes to keep it under control the whole way down. I didn't watch the second day, but based on the videos of the top athletes some amazing skiing went down! Follow these links for videos of the top 3 mens runs and top 3 womens runs.

Day 2 Results:

Jackson Backcountry

Central - See the little fly on the wall right above the bottom exit?

Looking back I learned a lot that I am excited to apply to future comps. First off, I was blown away by the number of men skiing WAY WAY outside of their ability level. There is a very very small number of freeskiing athletes who make enough money to support themselves with their skiing and an even smaller number who can support themselves through an injury. For everyone, and especially us non professional athletes, we ski to have a good time. Obviously, we all love competition and skiing hard, but a serious injury is  not worth the risk of skiing way outside of ones ability level. That being said, obviously I want to improve my results in the next comp I do. Based on what I saw in Jackson I think there a couple things that I can do to accomplish this: 1) ski harder, but still within my ability level line. 2) Ski my line as cleanly and quickly as possible. 3) Hit as many "terrain nuggets" (small extra drops) as possible. 4) Throw some spins into my run. 5) Ski a line that the rest of the world isn't skiing that still has good snow!

I would especially like to thank Matt Hamilton and Tom Runcie for their very useful and much appreciated advice and support during my first comp! Tom's finals run POV can be see here.

Jackson Hole Airforce