words by Kristi Giles
photos by Mike Manning
This year's Queen's Cup Open kicked off with a Breast Cancer Foundation benefit rail jam in downtown Park City on Friday night. Diggers were working hard on the course all day, and it would have been a really fun setup…but then it started snowing something like an inch an hour, so it became virtually impossible to carry any speed through the course. There were two hours of practice and then two more hours of semifinals—and the longer it went on, the more the piles of snow we were dropping in on deteriorated. The snowboarders were coming to a complete stop before they got to some of the rails—but despite the speed issues, the girls were feeding off each other, pushing themselves, and trying new stuff. The judges were handing out Skullcandy and Da Kine swag for tricks.
At one point, they picked a few competitors from each category to compete in a finals round, which was restricted to a short, steep down rail that was set up over stairs. The judging was kind of questionable though, because the girl who won "best trick" didn't even make finals. I guess finals didn't matter.
Eighteen year-old Veronica Kelly from Massachusettes won "best overall" with a 270 on to blindside switch up on the up-down box and a blindside switch up on the down rail. Park City local Sienna Palmacci took "best trick" with a blindside 270 out on the down rail, and Kristen Strobel, 18, from Minnesota, won "second best trick" with a blindside switch up on the down rail. The rail jam was also open to a limited number of men. Alex Dillard won "best overall" with a 270 on and a 270 out on the staircase rail, Kyle Lukas won "best trick" with a switch lip, and Dave Euler won "second best trick" with a 270 on.
Because the forecast was calling for more heavy snow, Saturday's slopestyle was moved from Park City Mountain Resort's King's Crown park (the big park) to Pick 'n' Shovel (the baby park). They built the last two jumps up a little bit, but they were still pretty small. That made it more fun and less intimidating for girls who weren't as experienced, but some girls complained that it really limited what they could do. There was only one blown knee this year, however, compared with last year's four blown knees, four concussions, and one separated shoulder in the King's Crown park—so I guess that's good. Anyway, it didn't end up snowing. But it snowed 10 inches overnight, so I bet it was an epic bluebird powder day. Oh well.
During practice, there was a sweet catfight in the middle of the course. The girls ended up ripping each other's clothes off and…sorry guys, I'm just kidding…I think it was too cold for that, but they looked pretty pissed off. Back to the competition—there were 51 girls and they were divided into seven teams with skiers and snowboarders together and pros as team captains.
Even though scheduling conflicts with the North American Open and the Nippon Open prevented a lot of the invited athletes who came in previous years from attending, Erin Comstock, Virginie Favre, Tori Beattie, Shidasha Holmstead, and last year's slopestyle winner Becca Babicz still came to help out. The girls got two hours of practice and then two runs each, and they were scored individually and as teams. When the scores were added up, Erin Comstock's team came out on top. Taylor Lundquist won "best rail trick" with a steezy blindside switch up on the up-down box, and Kristie Giles won "best jump trick" with a misty 5 on the bottom jump. Erica Durtschi's 5 to switch cork 5 to 7 put her on top overall and made her $1000 richer. Sophie Winstedt from Åre, Sweden got second, and Sienna Palmacci got third. They both did switch 1’s to 3 to 3 to 5. A lot of the scores were really close.
"It was pretty radical man," said Shidasha Holmstead, one of the team captains, "There were lots of chicks who hucked their meat."
The weather rolled back in for Sunday's pipe competition, and it couldn't have been much worse. It was 30-some degrees, super windy, and dumping a nasty layer of sticky groupel snow—and no matter how many times the pipe got slipped, it was still ridiculously slow.
They decided to make the competition jam format and and judge it based on overall impression with a single-hit session at the end. Brita Sigourney won "best trick" with a backflip, and Park City local Kim Sharp continued her Queen's Cup pipe dominance with some nice 7’s and decent amplitude.
Sienna Palmacci got second, and Brita Sigourney took third. Becca Babicz's team won the team award. The prizes ranged from Kicker car stereo systems and skis to pink furry headphones, moon boots, and Da Kine purses full of Paul Mitchell hair products.
"The level of skiing at the Queen's Cup has really improved," Becca said. "The girls who won were all doing legit tricks, even though the conditions weren't very good."
Best Trick (Female): Sienna Palmacci
Second Best Trick (Female): Kristen Strobel
Best Overall (Female): Veronica Kelly
Best Trick (Male): Kyle Lukas
Second Best Trick (Male): Dave Euler
Best Overall (Male): Alex Dillard
Best Trick (jumps): Kristie Giles
Best Trick (rails): Taylor Lundquist
Best Team: Erin Comstock, Rowan Johnson, Heather Thomas, Molly
Ellowitz, and Maddie Eakin
1st: Erica Durtschi
2nd: Sophie Windstedt
3rd: Sienna Palmacci
4th: Kristie Giles and Kristie Strobel (tie)
6th: Molly Ellowitz
7th: Augustina Burgazzi Marquez and Lara Cleeland (tie)
9th: Taylor Lundquist
10th: Ali Agee and Catherine Warchal (tie)
Best Trick: Brita Sigourney
Best Team: Becca Babicz, Charity Mersereau, Lauren Ladley, Britt
White, Katie Souza, and Brita Sigourney
1st: Kim Sharp
2nd: Sienna Palmacci
3rd: Brita Sigourney