Feb. 4, 2002, Utah SNOWBIRD, UT, U.S.A.- History was made today, as Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit and American Jamie Burge both managed to defend their respective titles as US Freeskiing National Champions. Before the sun had gathered strength, athletes gathered atop the north face of Mt Baldy at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Run scores from the previous day loomed, for some, as a challenge to overcome; pressure to get a good additional score, so that they could move on to a final afternoon run. Fifty-three athletes attempted to qualify for the final run. Just seven women and nineteen men actually remained as the competition intensified and the race for the National title concluded. In front of a crowd of over a thousand spectators, Jennifer Ashton of Whistler, Canada pushed her limits to try to knock defending champion Jamie Burge from the lead. Ashton skied the steep rocky faces and shark rocked cliff bands with speed and control, airing over 30 feet and landing with the woman's run score of the day. But the groundwork Burge had laid in previous runs was too solid to knock her from retaining the top of the podium. Burge put two strong runs together and added to her lead to beat Ashton by just 1.4 points. Ingred Backstrom of Crystal Mountain, USA was pushed back a spot from the previous day to finish in third. Local favorites Linda Peterson and Laura Ogden of Alta/Snowbird finished fourth and fifth. The men's competition was fierce. Kaj Zachrisson of Rattuik, Sweden had been leading coming into the final day, but a fall in his first run pushed him back in the standings, leaving the door open going into the final run. Three men attempted to take control of the winning position. Rick Greener of Alta/Snowbird, 2001 World Tour Champion Hugo Harrisson of Canada, and Guerlain Chicherit of Tignes, each skied two runs within a point of the other. They skied 40û slopes at speeds over 40 miles per hour, aired huge cliffs and picked their way through rugged and thinning terrain. In the end, Greener moved from his previous position of 17th to finish on the podium in third place. Hugo Harrisson of Whistler slid from 7th into second and Chicherit pulled out in front to retain his title as the US National Freeskiing Champion. Rounding out the top ten were Enak Gavaggio of Les Arcs, France in 4th, Aaron Estrada of Aspen, USA 5th, Kaj Zachrisson of Rattuik, Sweden 6th, a two-way tie for 7th between Canadian Pierre-Yves Leblanc and Sverre Lilliquist of Sweden, American Aaron Hunt was 9th, and Jamie Blair of the USA finished 10th. The event was the second stop of the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA) World Tour. Athletes will go on to compete March 2-4, 2002 in Les Arcs, France for the final stop of the World Tour. The US Freeskiing Nationals was sponsored by Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, DaKine, Clif Bar, and POWDER Magazine. From powdermag.com