Category Archives: Competition
It has been an all-time winter at Jackson Hole. So good, in fact, it’s been hard to leave. It’s not that we’ve had a ton of big storms, just a lot of eight or ten inch days. This has been ideal both from a sanity stand point (not waiting long between storms) and a stability standpoint (not a lot of heavy dumps stressing the snowpack).
We’ve been taking full advantage, to say the least. We’ve run through a solid hit list of Jackson classics as well as getting some firsts that have been pretty rowdy.
Nick Martini checking out the sea of dreams
At this point, filming has kind of taking priority over competing. After all, the whole reason I got into competing was to have an opportunity like this. That said, since focusing on filming I haven’t been able to bring the same A-game to the contests. It’s just hard for me to rationalize putting my ass/season on the line throwing down in a contest when it’s less than ideal conditions. The contest scene has gotten so good that if you’re not there with your a-game, your probably not ending up on the podium.
A lil’ chucking
Shooting so far this year has been awesome. It’s a different game when you’re trying to do something unique/special every day you go out. I just feel like you bring your level of skiing up a notch. What I didn’t expect is the level of frustration I have sometimes. Messing up or not stomping a film line has been as frustrating as messing up or not stomping a comp line. A lot of lines- because of how long they take to get to or the fact that there’s significantly less snow after you go through- you only get one crack at, and when you don’t ski it perfectly you can rarely go up and try it again. But, at the same time, you always have the chance to redeem yourself somewhere else- which you can’t always say for competing.
Now for the good part: getting detained (not arrested!)
So, there I was, sitting on a couch in a city, state, and country that will remain nameless. I hear someone talking on the front porch and then a knock on the door. Figuring it was UPS or FedEx, I mosey to the door and open it, and nobody’s there. Then, I hear from the side of the house a very authoritative voice say, “Sir, step out of the house.”
Pretty confused I say, “what?”
Then I hear again, this time a little more firm, “Sir, we need you to step out of the house.”
Dumbfounded I step out, and on the porch and around the house are three cops, all toting Assault Rifles. I’m thinking to myself, holy S#%t, this is not good. They ask me to put my hands on my head (which obviously I do). One of the cop starts talking, telling me there’s been a shooting in the area.
“Sir, there’s been a shooting in the neighborhood and we have reason to believe the shooter is in your house, do we have permission to enter the residence,” he says, not a hint of jest in his voice.
“Of course, I say,” totally shocked.
The cop continues, “Sir, we need you to put your hands behind your back.” I do, and they cuff me and start leading me away from the house as several cops storm the house, ARs drawn. At this point I’m totally blown away at what’s happening. Now that I’m cuffed, the cop continues telling me what’s going on, “The suspect was also was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.”
Standing there, in my black hoody, completely matching the description of the “suspect,” I’m just thankful they didn’t open fire when I opened the door. The cops search my house for five minutes or so and are on the radio, referring to me as the “suspect,” when it appeared that they started getting information that they might be at the wrong house.
They question me a bit longer, and finally conclude that they are indeed at the wrong house. They un-cuff me and apologize for the inconvenience. I laugh it off and head back inside, blown away that the most intense moment of my season may have just come on a leisurely weekday afternoon.
With the “Extremes” kicking off tomorrow I thought I’d post last year’s winning runs. It was deep then, and with two days of snow in the forecast, it should be deep again tomorrow. Since they already used the weather day, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we get at least one day off. If you’re around, come check it out!
Well, I’m about two months behind on editing my POV, so here’s a quick edit from the Euro travels earlier this winter with my extremely insightful commentary (talks are in the works with Morgan Freeman to narrate, but nothing has been finalized at this point). As a note, I didn’t end up with a bunch of banger shots, so there’s a lot of time lapse. Not super gnarly, mostly pow; I’ll get the gnar this week…promise.
Well, what can one say about Kirkwood? The venue is unreal- it’s the only stop on the tour that we’re guaranteed permanently closed terrain. It’s big, the snow’s good, and the vibe is great. Unfortunately, I ended up a less-than-impressive 10th at Kirkwood after a monster back-slap second run. Dylan Crossman and came away with the “W,” which I couldn’t be more stoked about. Janina Kuzma crushed it on the ladies side of things, and took home the sickbird to boot! Of the runs I saw both days, Crossman and Kuzma were the standouts- they crushed it.
Furthermore, Dylan was really skiing big mountain lines- not just hitting a bunch of small features really fluidly- but dropping-in over exposure, being controlled, and airing big out the bottom. Guys like Dylan, Lars Chickering-Ayers, Julien Lopez, and Josh Diek go out there and ski the film line- the lines that aren’t necessarily the highest scoring, but the lines that leave spectator’s jaws dropped. These lines don’t score as high, sometimes, because they’re difficult to execute smoothly, harder to put down that four-point landing, and any mistakes are magnified due to the exposure one’s on. Maybe it is harder to ski a bunch of smaller, well-traveled airs fast and fluidly, but I don’t think that’s really big mountain skiing. I’d rather go ski these exposed, difficult, and rarely skied lines and lose- going home knowing I pushed the sport- than win skiing a run-of-the-mill line quickly that’s still going to leave spectators wondering what big mountain skiing is and why I won.
Way to do both Dylan, cheers to you!
The idea of skiing the Tram Face is amazing- it’s big, it’s gnarly, and it may have the best spectating of any venue in the world. The reality of skiing tram face is, unfortunately, very difficult. It needs to snow a lot, stabilize over approximately 24 hours, all the while maintaining it’s integrity (not wet slide and pin wheel) in the hot Tahoe sun. The organizers had the ambition and it could have been a phenomenal event, but based on the snow and stability , I can’t say I was disappointed when they called off Tram Face after the slide. Although the avalanche wasnt’t the reason for the event being canceled (it was because of the hard debris piles nearly everywhere), I look at the incident as the mountain simply saying, “no guys, not today.”
So, Monday we headed to Silverado for the second year in a row. I won’t lie, I’m not a huge fan of Silverado for a big mountain competition, but we kinda had to take what we were dealt. I picked a fairly aggressive line- a standard air up top and a tight chute with a mandatory and an incredibly small transition. The air up top went fine, I dropped into the chute- that was tighter than it looked- made a hop turn and then got tip-to-tailed between two rocks. I went to make another turn and my skis stayed put and I just began tomahawking down the chute toward the mandatory. After two rolls I self arrested before I went over the edge. I sent the mandatory and skied to the finish in frustration. I’ve never crashed like that- in rocks in a place you really don’t want to be tumbling. I don’t have too many bad days on skis, but that was a pretty bad day.
For sure it’s a bummer that I didn’t once rise to the occasion on this years Freeride World Tour, but truth be told I’m not super worried about it. The tour gave me three years of amazing experiences traveling the world with some of the best people I’ve ever met, skiing some of the greatest mountains I’ve ever skied, and generally having the time of my life. In the end, isn’t that the point anyway?
After a couple of rough competitions in Europe I was able to bring home the bacon in Crested Butte at the 19th Annual US Extreme Freeskiing Championships. Woot, woot! The win put me atop the Freeskiing World Tour standings, so I have that going for me, which is nice. Check it out here: More photos, video, and details to come- as a lot went down with the new snowfall. Safe to say that the conditions were the best I’ve seen them for the “extremes.”
Days on snow: 6
Storm days: 6
Total snowfall: “53
Days without luggage: 10
People I borrowed clothes/equipment from: 6
Phone calls to Delta regarding luggage: 57
Airports my bags visited: 10
Contest days: 0
FWT athletes kicked out of official party: 5
Dance-floor related injuries: 1
Scandinavians that missed the last shuttle after the party and stayed in Sochi: 1
People that flew to the wrong airport in Moscow: 4
Angry Russians that thought, by some miracle, I could understand Russian if they just spoke louder and slower: countless
With IFSA registration about a week off and FWT registration ongoing, I felt obliged to give my $0.02 on big mountain competitions (BMC). With the perceived reward of money, sponsors, and film time, BMC seems like the way to go, right? The competitions have helped launched the careers of Chris Davenport, Shane McConkey, Seth Morrison, Hugo Harrison, and Ingrid Backstrom, among others. With open qualifiers, it seems that fame is a mere four runs (and often less) away. However, before entering said competition, there are a few things you should probably consider.
First off, subjectivity is a bitch. Get it through your head that sometimes you’re going to get hooked up, and sometimes you’re going to get burned- that’s just the way it goes. Yes, as bad as it sounds, the more recognizable names will usually get the benefit of the doubt. If you’re going to pout when you get burned, have the dignity to concede a bit when you get hooked up- your peers will appreciate it.
Second, there may be no other skiing event that provides the opportunity to ski beyond one’s ability like a BMC. For instance, in slopestyle, one is pretty aware of their abilities- odds are if you can only through a switch nine you’re probably not going to drop the hammer and try your first double cork ten- you either have the trick in your pocket or you don’t. However, the terrain and airs in BMC are more subjective. Sure you’ve stuck a twenty footer, but can you do it today, on this take off, with this landing, after ten people have hit it? Err (no pun intended) on the side of caution.
Also, if you’re looking for a straight-line to the limelight, this is probably not the place. Yes, the aforementioned people got their start on the tour, but this was a long time ago- before the age of self-edits, social media, and shameless (sigh) internet self-promotion. Since Ian McIntosh in 2004, no one has come off a winning season and went straight into filming with a major production crew. Even before then, a winning season didn’t translate into the silver screen the following year. Yes, a lot of the filming talent competed at one point, but not all of them (surprisingly few actually) dominated, particularly recently.
Next, sure you’re a good skier, but the game’s a little different when you have judges watching every move and several hundred people screaming, ringing cowbells, and lighting off fireworks. If you get nervous on shooting the final cup in beer pong- you should probably ask yourself if this sport is really for you. On that point- being a good skier doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good competition skier. There are some amazing skiers out there that just don’t compete well.
So, if you understand that competition success doesn’t translate into film segments, are realistic about your skiing ability given the conditions, are cool under pressure, and understand it’s a judged sport, than, yes, this shit is for you and you’re going to love it.
First, if you pay attention to the top riders you’ll learn a ton- how to inspect, how to create a line, how to keep cool under pressure, etc. I mentioned how a lot of guys that film now never dominated competitions- but they sure as shit learned a lot through them, helping them become the skiers they are today. Next, although it might not be a fast track to the silver screen, it will get you noticed, in a timely fashion as well. Take all the photos and video you want, and maybe next season it will get you somewhere. Win a competition; it will get you noticed that day. I’m not saying you’re going to get put on an international team for getting third, but it will at the very least give you some in roads with sponsors. Lastly, and most importantly (i.e. this is why you should be doing it in the first place) you’re going to meet some of the coolest, hardcore yet down to earth people in the world. The family on tour is like nothing else in sports. Yes it’s a competition, but everyone is cheering each other on and helping them out. If you really want to see the soul of skiing, come to a tour stop.
The people of La Parva, Chile, love two things: Condors and freeskiing. While I can’t really explain their obsession with the former, their obsession with the latter is pretty understandable—amazing terrain and meters upon meters of annual snow. For this reason, it’s no surprise that the Freeskiing World Tour is kicking off there next week from September 2-5. Their obsession with the sport is further reflected in the fact that they recently renamed a large chunk of their mountain “McConkey’s,” a run which will serve as the first day’s venue.
McConkey’s is most similar to Snowbird’s North Baldy—a lot of features that are well spaced. The venue will favor faster, more fluid skiers that prefer bigger airs, rather than more technical skiers. Made up of “La Chiminaya,” and everything to the looker’s right, skiers should have no problem teeing off up to 70 feet should conditions permit. Also, to make things more challenging, McConkey’s has a nasty rollover at the top. In other words, skiers can’t see their lines from the start, so they better know where the hell they’re going.
In the spirit of keeping things simple, Day Two consists of “La Chiminaya” and everything to lookers left. Similar to Crested Butte’s Freeskiing World Tour venue, this terrain clearly favors the more technical, billy-goat style skiing of the early ‘90s. While the far left portion of the venue will once again allow skiers to open it up, the real meat of the venue lies just to the looker’s left of La Chiminaya. Expect the highest line scores of the event to come from this area. Not only does the Day Two venue also have a rollover, but it has numerous closeout lines, so athletes really better know where they’re going.
I only met Shane a couple of times, and I can’t say that I made a lasting impression on him. However, I, like thousands of other skiers throughout the world, am intertwined in the community that he helped create—the IFSA. It will be an honor to compete on a venue named after the man and speaks to his influence and continued legacy in so many dimensions of our sport. I’d like to think that Shane would be quite pleased with what his organization has become: A family of skiers that essentially throws down for the sake of throwing down, and the event in Chile will be exactly that.