Telluride, Colorado, February 7, 2009
– On one of the highest
peaks ever to host a freeskiing competition, Mark Welgos and Claudia
Bouvier overcame tough conditions to win the 4th Annual Subaru
Telluride Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier. They each blasted off
Palmyra Peak, the 13,320-foot apex of Telluride, down cliff-riddled,
45-plus-degree steeps, enduring fierce winds and iffy visibility.
Their victories capped the first ever competition held on Palmyra Peak.
Helicopters were supposed to deliver contestants atop Palmyra’s sky
scratching, rocky pyramid. But increasing gusts grounded the bird,
forcing many to hike 90 minutes up Palmyra’s oxygen-scarce, knife-edge
ridge. Conditions limited the 15 female competitors and 35 males to one
run each. Without much chance to rest or to scope lines, skiers busted
fewer airs than normal, opting instead to ski fast and aggressive down
Palmyra’s massive, alpine apron.
The winners, however, still put plenty of air beneath their boards,
especially the men. Fifth place finisher Michael Gardner popped a big
air mid-slope, earning a big score for choice of line. Lars
Chickering-Ayers, who came in fourth, wowed the several hundred
spectators with a pioneering new line with a double jump. Telluride
local Chason Russell, who finished third, milked several hucks out of
familiar terrain, blasting from far skiers right to left to do so,
earning the day’s loudest ovation. Second place finisher Arne
Backstrom, of Squaw Valley, California, qualified for the rest of the
tour with a bold fluid run. And Welgos, of Aspen, earned not just
victory with 72.88 points but also the coveted Sickbird award—given to
the skier who puts in the most spirited, most extraordinary competition
run--for hurling off Palmyra’s many cliffs. He edged Backstrom by .69
Claudia Bouvier of Vail, CO, scored the highest yesterday, then did it
again today, with a two-day total of 68.50 points. Her tight, compact
style earned the champ the nickname “Little One.” Like Bouvier,
Friday’s second- and third-place women also repeated their standings on
Saturday, with Jaqui Edgerly of Aspen maintaining her lead over Alexis
DuPont of Baldy, with a two-day total of 66.75 to 62.88. All threw down
fast, fluid runs.
The North Face Young Gun Award, which honors outstanding freeskiers
under 21, went to John Collinson of Snowbird, UT, who finished 31st.
Collinson, already the youngest summiteer of Aconcagua, South America’s
highest peak, aims to become the youngest to climb Mt. Everest in March.
MC Frankie Alisuag gave repeated props to the crowd, for hanging at the
12,000-foot-plus finish in freezing cold that made his feet feel like
“blocks of ice.” He also raved about moving the finals to Palmyra Peak,
saying it “could be as world-class a venue as any. We’ve raised the
The Freeskiing World Tour heads next to Crested Butte, CO, February 18th through 22ndth.
For more information and a full tour schedule, please log on to www.freeskiingworldtour.com
Coming off a breakthrough year in live webcasting technology, 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. MSI will again be satellite broadcasting from
the four FWT stops. Live coverage of the best freeskiing in the world
can be viewed from the comfort of your desk chair.
2009 Freeskiing World Tour Schedule of Events
Subaru Telluride Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier, Telluride, Colorado. February 5-8, 2009
Subaru US Extreme Freeskiing Championships, Crested Butte, Colorado. February 19-22, 2009
Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals, Snowbird, Utah. March 10-15, 2009
Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships, Kirkwood, California. March 19-23, 2009
Subaru Freeskiing World Championships, Alyeska, Alaska. April 8-12, 2009