Words by Ryan Snyder

Photos by Christian Pondella, Erik Seo, Ian Fohrman & Mike Arzt

Day two of Red Bull Cold Rush dawned blue as competitors awoke in the historic Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton, Colorado. Built in 1884, the “GI,” as locals call it, served as Silverton’s social hub for all the gold and silver miners that descended on the town around the same time. Notorious at the turn of the century for prostitution and surly bar fights, the GI has a bullet still lodged in the wall of the bar as a reminder of days past. Now the GI is the hub for Red Bull Cold Rush and its opulently decorated rooms complete with creaky wood floors and thin walls means when one person gets up in the morning, everyone else is soon to follow.

Get on the bus.

Dave Treadway feeling the stoke.

Competitors looking on as Richard Permin sends it.

After a hearty breakfast, competitors headed to the base of Silverton Mountain to get the Slopestyle portion of the event under way. Freeskier Pep Fujas spent two weeks in Silverton prepping four giant booters on the course built in the “Mando” zone. As the athletes inspected the course, Fujas was making final adjustments to the jumps. “Everything is dialed in and looking pretty for all the athletes,” Fujas said. “My favorite feature is ‘The Castle,’ which is the last jump and about a 70-foot step down to the knuckle. You could go 100 easy. It’s kind of scary, but really safe, so we should see some amazing stuff off it.”

Fabio Studer on The Castle kicker.

Amazing indeed. “So much good stuff went down today, it’s hard to pinpoint the highlights,” competitor Sage Cattabriga-Alosa said. “Sean Pettit’s huge, slow switch cork 5 I guess is what stands out to me the most.” Pettit landed the switch cork 5 off The Castle booter at the bottom of the course on his first run. On his second he nearly landed a double cork 9, but came up just short off the “Tiger Blood” jump near the top. Fortunately for everyone, the peer judging format Cold Rush has always employed awards for overall impression, whether or not you stick it. With this in mind, freeskiing newcomer Alex Prochazka had probably the biggest air of the day off the same hit. Taking insane speed in, Prochazka launched a laid out double backflip that he over-rotated by half.

Sean Pettit sticking a cab 540 off The Castle jump.

Blake Nyman with a switch 900.

Other notables from the men was Josh Bibby’s smooth switch cork 9 with a tail grab off the “Step ‘Er Down” jump at the top of the course, Leo Ahrens' laid out double backflip off the “Hipstamatic” hip jump at the bottom, Dane Tudor’s switch cork 9 off Tiger Blood, and Dylan Hood’s buttery smooth switch 5's. On the women's side, Suz Graham stepped it up as usual with a big back flip off Tiger Blood. Jackie Paaso followed suit off the same jump, and Michelle Parker launched impressively smooth, late switch 180s in both of her runs off the Step ‘Er Down jump.

Josh Bibby mid-switch 900 off the Step 'Er Down jump.

Suzanne Graham lays out a backflip.

With impressive performances from nearly the entire field, it’s nearly impossible to predict who might have won the Slopestyle portion of Red Bull Cold Rush. This evening the athletes again congregated in the basement theatre of the GI, which is rumored to be haunted, to watch everyone’s footage from the day and rank each other appropriately. Then it’s another early start for the last day as the entire event crew and athlete roster will be transported by helicopter to “Zone 7” for the Cliffs portion of Red Bull Cold Rush.

Capturing all the action for TV.

Updates, photos, and video of the 2011 Red Bull Cold Rush can be found at http://www.redbullusa.com/coldrush. Head there to check out the daily highlight video and vote on your favorite skier for the People's Choice Award.