TJ Schiller and Simon Dumont go head to head.

Henrik Windstedt.Simon Dumont.Words and photos byJulie Weinberger

With eight of the world's best freeskiers descending upon Steamboat on Friday, Dec. 17 for the 2004 Ultimate Bumps and Jumps competition, the day was sure to be full of thrills. After all, how often do you get a chance to see Rory Bushfield, Simon Dumont, Pep Fujas, CR Johnson, Peter Olenick, TJ Schiller, Candide Thovex and Henrik Windstedt tearing up the bumps?

The event consisted of a big air and a combined course with moguls, rails and jumps, all taking place on Bashor Bowl. Originally, the big air was supposed to be held on a hip jump near the side the trail. But, when organizers realized the landing was too sketchy, it was moved to the kickers at the bottom of the mogul course. The planned halfpipe event was also cancelled.

In the big air, each competitor took three hits. The judging format, with the highest scoring jump from the first two hits added to the third jump's score for a combined total, put the money on stomping the final hit. The winner received 100 points towards the combined total, second place 80, third 60 and so on. According to TJ, "big air was sick because everyone was throwing something different." Among the highlights of this event were CR's trademark 1260s, Candide's unique switch underflip 720s, Peter's cab 7s and 9s and Henrik's smooth cork 7s and 9s. But none of these compared to TJ's smooth, stylish cork 10 which got the highest score of the day.

Then, it was onto the mutant hybrid of a slopestyle course and a mogul run for an all or nothing dual free mogul event. The course included a full mogul run, with the usual second kicker replaced by a flat-down rail. Competitors finished their runs off the big-air booter (This was the same kicker from the big air event). Skiers took to the course in pairs, with the winner moving onto the next round and the loser moving into the consolation bracket.Candide is steezy even in the bumps.

Henrik and Rory were by far the smoothest skiers in the bumps. They dualed in the first round, with Rory taking an early exit as he caught an edge on the landing of the first jump. Watching their knees go left-right, up-down so effortlessly was almost like watching a pro mogul event.

Peter O., on the other hand, looked somewhat lost in the bumps, spending most of his time in the backseat. Pep, CR and Candide were solid all around: they skied the bumps well, tossing in various inverts and off-axis jumps on the mogul kicker, spinning on and off the rail and going huge off the final kicker. Pep's misty off the big kicker was one of the best jumps seen all day, and Candide's 450 on the rail showed why he is the rail master.

The big surprises were Simon and TJ. All morning, Simon openly denied any bump skills. But he ripped through the moguls faster than anyone else. TJ's big air points kept him at the top after the moguls, and when Simon beat out Henrik in a very close final duel, the two youngest competitors were tied. In a perfect end to the afternoon, Simon and TJ headed to the start gates one final time to break the tie. In a very close run, both threw down incredible runs, with TJ squeaking by with bigger airs and a smoother style in the bumps and on the rail.

Peter O. says, "This one's for all the ladies." Candide says, "Quiconque a peint cette maison etait aveugle."

Later that evening, Candide, CR, Henrik, Peter, Rory, TJ and Steele Spence took to a double-kink box in the middle of the Gondola Square for the Jabra Rail Jam. A few local kids selected from the Sobe Rail Jam, held earlier, earned the chance to throw down alongside the pros.

With a slow inrun dropping off the side of a building, the skiers wanted to drop off the roof onto the in-run so they could get more speed. That idea, however, was quickly shot down. "The set-up was a little slow," said Rory. "It was hard to get enough speed." Slingshot boosts by announcer Uncle E and his sidekick helped the athletes get more speed. The set-up was tricky, as most of the skiers--other than Candide--bailed well before the second kink. Candide won by spinning on and off the box without much trouble. Despite this, "it was still a good time," said Rory.

All in all, the competition was a success. TJ took the overall win, followed by Simon in second and Henrik in third.

"The set up was really sick," TJ said. "It was killer because it was everything you wanted to do: you're skiing your bumps, your jumps, your rails. It's really the most wide open competition you can do."

TJ may have learned how to win comps, but he still needs to work on mastering American drinking laws.

Coverage of the Ultimate Bumps and Jumps will air on CBS from 5-6:00pm (Eastern Time) December 26.