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words and photos by Jason MousseauThe Canadian Freeski Open is a competition that's been running for the past 7 years at three different locations including Kimberly, Fernie and Red. The competition showcases those who excel at freeriding and is open to anyone willing to go against the best in their age category. The format is pretty simple; each athlete gets one run in which they are judged on five various categories; line, control, fluidity, technique and aggressiveness. To achieve the maximum number of points, the competitor must choose a difficult line while displaying the control and style of a good technical skier and ensure they move down the mountain with a goal and tons of energy. The winner is decided by a panel of qualified judges who include Jeff Holden, Jimmy Jack and Gabriel Gaudet.Athletes had to show up Friday with their coaches and/or parents in order to register, and the course was open to all until noon that day. Later on there was a mandatory meeting at 7pm where the competitors were briefed on the basics of the competition.The base lodge was packed with athletes, coaches and parentsHead judge Jeff Holden explained the schedule for the weekend, and went over the format for the comp along with how athletes will be judged and scored. He insisted that even though this was a competition, that everyone should do their best to keep the vibe high and do what it takes to get everyone stoked on the fact that they are doing what they love, skiing. Head Judge Jeff Holden going over the course layout for the weekendOnce that was out of the way, Jeff went over the course and how it would change as the weekend progressed. Day one was the qualifier, where the skier's right was considered out of bounds and entering it would result in a DQ. The second day the whole run was opened, and everything was fair game including a very difficult cliff face and other technical features. That wrapped up the meeting and the juniors were sent home with excitement in their eyes for the what would end up being a great weekend.Course layout for the competitionSaturday morning everyone had to be at the hill bright and early for a mandatory inspection run which took place between 7:00 and 7:30. The mountain got about 10 cms overnight, so everyone was greeted with great snow condition, albeit poor visibility. Unfortunately, the fog did not lift and the judges had to spread themselves throughout the course and each run was split into three individually judged sections, where the average was taken in order to get the athletes score.As you can see...well you can't see much, but you get the pointThe rest of the day went smoothly with no injuries, other than the main chairlift which stopped working with a handful of athletes remaining, but event coordinators were quickly able to get them towed to the top in order for them to finish their runs. After a long day of skiing, everyone met in the lodge for a recap of the day including scores and a quick overview of what will come on Sunday.Sunday morning the qualified athletes headed towards the hill at 7 am and were greeted with one of the most spectacular views they have seen, which immediately got everyone stoked on the day to come.A divine presence settled the clouds just feet below the courseThe youngest competitor attacking the course like a champThe competition started on time at 9 am and was split up into six different categories, according to age and gender in order to ensure an equal playing field for everyone. The starting gate was just below the main chair and was host to a sound system pumping out beats all day, accompanied with a great MC and the legendary Captain Jack as a starter.A great way to start off a runYay for skiing!The kids were killing it all day, and offered some great runs for the spectators as some chose extremely technical lines while others threw spins and grabs into their runs for extra style points. Unfortunately the fog crept up during the day, and at about 1 pm or so the judges had to split up the course into three sections again. The older males were faced with low light and gnarlier snow conditions, but this is what a freeskiing competition is all about, and they attacked the course aggressively in search of that first place spot.About to hit the first cliff bandÃƒï¿½ Second place finisher Alex Berg stoked on the beautiful weatherColson Beatson at the top of the Male 16-18 podiumThe day came to an end without any serious injuries, and
the athletes, coaches and parents gathered in the base lodge anxiously
awaiting the final results. Before they were announced, skis and other
gear was raffled off and Jeff thanked all those involved in putting
together a great event. Once that was out of the way, he announced the
results to the eager crowd.Male 16-181st- Colston Beaston2nd- Alex Berg3rd- Travis SteegerFemale 16-181st- Alex George2nd- Brittani Ballantyne3rd- Francesca Pavvilard'cainMale 12-151st- Brodie Evans2nd- Duncan Adams3rd- Noah MaisonetFemale 11-151st- Annalise Manley2nd- Hailey Loeffler3rd- Karly SansomMale 7-111st- Garret Capel2nd- Mitch Gilman3rd- Zeb DueckFemale 7-101st- Robyn Sansom2nd- Sally Staner3rd- Kimberly BestSenior Male Podium1st- Dane Tudor2nd- Luke Nelson3rd- Mathieur Gagnon TheriaultSenior Female Podium1st- Krystal Wright2nd- Karolina Ekman3rd- Crystal-Rose LeeClick here to download Stepdown Production's edit of the senior event!