Words: Hannah Whitney
Photos: Eben Wight, http://www.usfreeskiing.com,
all photos are owned by Mountain Sports International
High Life Ridge – looker’s right side of the venue
CFS team rider Lauren Alkire killing it deep in Toilet
Life – between Toilet Bowl and High Life
Honestly, I’m glad to be vegged out on the couch doing a
whole lot of nothing for a change. Granted, it’s only been a month since the
tour started, but it seems like it was nonstop! So the 17th Annual Crested
Butte Extreme Freeskiing Championship is over...with a world tour twist. It was
the first year this event has been a part of the International Freeskiing
Association (IFSA) tour, and run by Mountain Sport International (MSI). It
brought some great organization, judging, and fun to the already SICK arena.
That’s right; I’m talking about Big Hourglass and the Bermuda Triangle. I skied
it, hucked it, and ate shit! But that’s no place to start.
Since I used to live in Gunnison and ski
Crested Butte, and that’s where my boyfriend Kyle grew up, we decided to take a
full week to stay back there and catch up with friends. If you’ve never had the
chance to visit the Gunnison
Valley, you have to. It
rocks whether its summer or winter. Plus, if you’re looking to go to school
Western State College of Colorado
is awesome! And you could visit Jesse and Gabe at the Colorado FreeSkier, slope
side at the resort! But really, you want to go for the skiing; for Teocalli
bowl, the North Face, Spellbound, Third bowl and so much more.
We got in late on Tuesday and stayed in Gunnison.
Then we were up early so I could register, pay the big bucks, and ski
Wednesday. The junior comp had started Wednesday...and we could hear the cheers
of people watching those young rippers while we were checking out the Headwall
and other possible venues. I helped some friends scout lines for the qualifier
the following day which would be held the next day on Headwall. I can’t tell
you how nice it was to be pre-qualified and not to have to ski Angle Gully,
dubbed Angle “Quarry” after over 150 freakin’ competitors were sent through
it!!! That’s exactly what happened on Thursday. Starting with the juniors who
had qualified to day one of their competition, and proceeding through seniors’
women and men and on to the 18-39 crew. I spent my day between watching some competitors
battle the quarry and inspecting High Life to Dead End for day one on Friday.
I’m always impressed by some skiers on Headwall, and also see repeated
mistakes...beware when hucking over nasty loose rocks into big hard moguls!!!
Spellbound Cliffs – nice job staying on the ground
CFS team rider Ben Somrak recovering from a hang up in the bottom of Spellbound
in the Lookout Cliffs
In my inspections of High Life, all I gained was
the realization that I did not want to ski there during the competition. A good
portion of the area was awkwardly steep and tree covered, and I just couldn’t
ski it smoothly. So during my inspection Friday just after 8am, I had some big
decisions to make. How to pick a line that is impressive enough to get some
good points, and isn’t the same exact line as many others, but also isn’t too
much of a risk of falling? I took my time looking at two possibilities from the
top of spellbound cliffs. Then I skied around and checked them out from below
to look at the landing and run out. Going back and forth I picked the one that
I thought fewer people would ski so that my run might be more memorable. The
one I chose also looked a little bigger and more challenging. From there I had
to decide what was the next feature I could get to fast without traversing too
much. It was a small air but I could hit it fast and smooth. Then I cut to the
right of the giant double and picked a final air with a tight run out between
two trees and then to the Subaru arch.
Me skiing lower Spellbound Bowl
For having one inspection, my run went as well
as I could have hoped for, and put me into 3rd place. I was only 0.1 points
behind Carrie, but we were then around 3 points behind former champ Jen Ashton!
We had some ground to make up during Saturday’s finals. It was an awesome
Friday watching people jump off big stuff, especially Deuter’s Double and some
of those huge airs into trees up in “No Way In, No Way Out”...anyone? Jesse?
Andy? Oh yeah!
CFS team rider Tyson Bolduc going HUGE in Toilet Life
Trees – this was easily 60’
Tyson glowing with the nectar of the Gods
It’s been said a bunch, but this was only the
fourth time ever that the Big Hourglass and the Bermuda Triangle have been
opened. I felt so lucky to have the chance to ski it at all. Everyone is pretty
much in the same boat on this venue. We got to poke around it during inspection
to get a feel for the snow, which was so sugary in some places that it would
just dissipate down to rock under your skis. The new challenge here was the
possibility that if someone skied the line you wanted to before you, there’s a
chance that it won’t have much snow left on it. At the same time, the snow on
it can also be better after a couple people have jumped through it. I really
felt like I was just skiing during my run; going where it looked good, not
where I felt I had to go because I had planned on it before hand. And it was
sick! The snow was good and I hit some super fun pillows and a nice big air
into the Bermuda Triangle at the bottom. It was an awesome feeling having so
many friends cheering me on down at the bottom. I love you guys!!!
Suzanne Graham hanging in the Hourglass Start Gate
The perspective from the Start Gate – there is a ton of
vert in this venue!!
Suzanne Graham hucking in the Bermuda Triangle
Me sending in the Bermuda Triangle
Speaking to the people, and psyched to be going to the
My run was far from perfect, but it got me into
the superfinal in 2nd place. I’m very sorry to say that Carrie tumbled and did
serious damage to her knee. I know she would have had a bad ass line had she
gotten the chance to get to it all. I wish her the best in recovery...we all
know she’s tough! Unfortunately most of the women, all great skiers, were taken
down by the variable snow, so only Colby Adams and Jen were in the superfinals
with me. And now I was 7 points behind Jen!
I had to make a decision to either step up my line and try to make up some of
those points Jen had on me, or ski a similar line that I could be more
confident would keep me in second. I decided I wanted to get more lost in the
Bermuda Triangle! Plus the snow on the line I was scoping from the bottom
looked good and hadn’t been skied. If you’ve looked on usfreeskiing.com at the
CB superfinals videos, you know how this turned out for me! I felt good about
it, the snow was good, and I seemed so close to the finish corral before those
last two jump turns and taking the drop.
Superfinals run, hucking through Bermuda Triangle
Spot the landing
The next thing I knew I was awkwardly in a tree well with the wind knocked out
of me and soreness all over.
I had help walking through the finish line, got some
oxygen, and then a snowmobile ride to the clinic after spitting up some blood.
Sara Kay told me there were a bunch of rumors about what
was wrong with me...I was bleeding internally or blew my knee...yikes! I admit
I was kinda scared. Luckily I had just bitten the back of my tongue where
patrollers couldn’t see, so they wanted to be sure it wasn’t my kidneys. I’m
really sorry that I scared people! I just wanted to watch the men’s
Gabe triple logoing in the drunken corral at the bottom
of the venue
It was an awesome day nonetheless. I made it to
the awards fine, and got full updates of everyone’s amazing runs. Like Kiffor’s
huge hucks earning him the Sickbird belt buckle for the second time in his
career. And I was blown away to stand on the podium with him and receive a
Crested Butte Sickbird award...it’s such an honor and tribute. On top of that I
still ended up with third place which feels great. It feels good to do well for
myself on what still feels like my home mountain, and also to represent my
sponsors, Colorado Freeskier of course, Scott USA, Helly Hansen, and my new
body armor sponsor UFO Plast (whose products I was very happy to have on during
my tumble!). Still need skis, bindings, and boots though...
3rd place on World Tour Stop #1 – congrats to
Jen and Colby too!
Hannah Whitney and Kiffor share sickbird award for
Crested Butte event
It’s a week+ after my fall and I’m still sore and taking
time off from skiing because it hurts...so hopefully I’ll be good by Jackson Hole! I guess I lied about making these updates
shorter, but I’ll see you then!!!
thanks Hannah! What a killer time
it was having all the athletes here for the IFSA event. Thanks again to Eben Wight with MSI and http://www.usfreeskiing.com for the photos,
and to CBMR for hosting this awesome event!
Just a reminder, everything in the store is now between
40-60% off – all skis, accessories, outerwear, and casual clothes are flying
out the door, so make sure you check out http://www.coloradofreeskier.com for the
best deals going!