This is the second installment of a four part series highlighting the best of skiing during the 2012/13 winter season (view the first one here: The series will overview all aspects of freesking, from movies to various events and competitions throughout the year. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy!

Rails 2 Riches

While many of the big name pros were on the road going from comp to comp, plenty of other skiers were making a name for themselves in the smaller events held this season. With the season just getting started, many top skiers headed to Killington to compete in Rails 2 Riches, and with a stacked line up and a great setup, the competition was sure to be fierce. Right out of the gate, Kieren McVeigh was throwing bangers, with lots of surface swaps and presses on the creative setup at Killington. Later on he was sure to please the crowd with a stunning 2 on-tail press-pretzel 2 on the dfd tube. Other highlights included Steve Stepp's blind 3 swap on the dfd and Giray Dadali's switch 2-rodeo 6 on the closeout. LJ Strenio also put in a great performance, including a front swap-rodeo 4 on the closeout and a blind 3 swap-continuing 2 out on the dfd. This performance (on renal boots, I might add) led LJ to his 5th R2R title, and rightfully so. The podium was rounded out by Giray Dadali in 2nd and Steve Stepp in 3rd.

Kieren McVeigh, 2 on-tail press-pretzel 2 on the DFD (Photo: Jamie Walter).

LJ Strenio, rodeo 450 out on the closeout (Photo: Jamie Walter).

Recap of Rails 2 Riches (Video: George Watts).

War Of Rails

In early early March, Cali became the place to be for skiers, with War of Rails taking place at Bear Mountain. The setup was unreal, it contained a huge pole jam to wall ride, a tube jib that could be approached from multiple angles (affectionately named the "U-Tube"), a massive goalpost rail, and many more jibs. It allowed for a great mix of highly creative and technical tricks, which the skiers took advantage of.

The course (Photo: Henrik Lampert).

The skiers all skied very well, especially for how big the course was. Coming in third place was Dale Talkington, who wowed the crowd with many tricks, including a clean cork 7 onto the wallride and a cork 6 off of one of the cannon rails. He also took a lipslide into a nosepress all the way to the top of the wallride, and came down to do a back 4 out of the U-Tube. Pat Goodnough took second place with a switch 6 onto the gap-down rail and a lip 2 pretzel 2 on the same feature.

Dale Talkington on the "U-Tube" (Photo: Nate Abbott).

LJ Strenio, of Rails 2 Riches glory, put on a performance that was undoubtably worthy of the 1st place prize of $15,000. To earn this title, LJ threw a slew of highly impressive tricks, while utilizing the entire course to maximum potential. He impressed many with a misty 4 out of the U-Tube an a back cork 8 tail on the cannon. But LJ went further to prove he deserved to win with a switch 2-pretzel 2 on the huge goalpost feature and topped it all off with a dub 12 off the tranny of the wallride.

LJ Strenio on the goalpost (Photo: Nate Abbott).

The podium: LJ Strenio (1st), Pat Goodnough (2nd), and Dale Talkington (3rd) (Photo: Nate Abbott).

Recap of War of Rails (Video: Bear Mountain Resort)

Orage Masters 8

Brought back by popular demand, the eighth edition of the Orage Masters was held in Sun Valley, Idaho in early April. Eight teams of skiers descended upon Dollar Mountain for what has been dubbed the "anti-comp". The teams were: Travelling Circus, Level 1, Stept, Toy Soldier Productions, The Kids, Inspired, 4bi9, and Elite 8 winner Me Gustan Aviones. All of the athletes dressed in costume for the event, making the event even less serious. The teams squared off in a bracket format on a wacky course covered with flamingos for the first round, and highlights of round one included Travelling Circus' moving jump to backflip and The Kids' complete disregard of fire safety. When the smoke rose (literally, The Kids set the s-rail on fire) after round 1, it was 4bi9 vs. Travelling Circus and Level 1 vs. The Kids. By this time 4bi9, or "Team Mahalo" had gathered quite a following, and rose above the Travelling Circus Pizza Delivery Crew with lots of transfers and a clan of bikini-clad women entering the course. The Kids continued their obsession with all things fire, which backfired when they were disqualified for not following the fire code, sending Level 1 Constructions onto the finals.

The Kids playing with fire...and proceeding to be disqualified (Photo: Henrik Lampert).

The Line Travelling Circus crew using a moving wedge jump to showcase a nice backflip (Photo: Steve Herrick).

By the time finals rolled around everyone was sufficiently drunk, including the two finalist teams, Level 1 Constructions and Team Mahalo (4bi9). 4bi9 utilized gaps and transfers in their runs, while Level 1 had cone taps and big doubles. LJ Strenio of the Level 1 Constructions crew threw a big old triple backie to his feet driving the crowd nuts, even though he washed out. The two teams ended the event with a big train with both teams, a fitting way to finish the weekend. In the end, Level 1 came out on top, winning $10,000 and taking home the golden flamingo trophy. Level 1 Constructions was made up of LJ Strenio, Mike Hornbeck, Chris Logan, and Banks Gilberti.

Orage Masters 8 champions Level 1 Constructions (Photo: Henrik Lampert). Masters 8 Highlights (Video: Freeskier Magazine).

Nine Queens

There were many other fantastic events across the pond as well, Nine Knights and Nine Queens being two of them. Nine Queens was held in Austria in March, and featured a snow chateau laden with jumps and jibs. Some of the top women in freeskiing took part in the session on the huge feature. Some very progressive skiing went down, Including a dub cork 12 from Lisa Zimmermann.

Big Air: Lisa Zimmermann

Ruler of the Week: Coline Ballet-Baz

Best Style: Maude Raymond

Best Trick: Lisa Zimmermann (dub cork 12) Queens 2013 Highlights (Video: Nine Knights).

Nine Knights

Nine Knights, the men's edition of Nine Queens took place in Italy in April. The event was fantastic, with skiers from all over the world hitting the huge castle feature.

Ruler of the Week: Nicky Keefer

Best Transition: Lolo Favre

Best Style: Nicky Keefer

Best Trick: David Wise (dub misty 10)

Jib Contest: Roy Kittler

Nine Knights 2013 Highlights (Video: Nine Knights).

Level 1 Superunknown X

For the 10th year, Level 1 Productions held its anual video contest, in which the winner gets to shoot with Level 1 Productions. This year, it was changed up, so that the top ten videos get to shoot with Level 1 in Sun Valley, where it would be decided who would win the check for $5,000 and the chance to shoot the rest of the year with Level 1. This year there were many fabulous entries, but after a week in Sun Valley, it was decided that Magnus Graner would be the winner of Superunknown X.

Congratulations Magnus! (Photo: Level 1)

Magnus Graner's winning Superunknown entry.

The West Coast Session 7

At the beginning of May, skiers journeyed to Mount Hood, Oregon for The West Coast Session 7. Athletes from all reaches of freeskiing convened for a fun week at Timberline, and split into six filming teams (who have not released their edits from the event yet). Taking home the MVP award was none other than NS favorite Steve Stepp. The Best Trick award went to Alex Beaulieu-Marchand for his double cork 7 at the Tommy E. Invitational, and he also won "All Day Syndrome" for consistently skiing very hard all day. The King Meat award went to Jamie Crane-Mauzy for her crash on a double backflip, which she later landed. The Repeat Offender award for best returning skier went to Ben Moxham, and the Rookie award went to Niklas Eriksson for his nose butter double cork 12.

Lyman Currier on the WCS step over (Photo: Ethan Stone).

Be sure to look out for Skiing Year In Review III: Comps, dropping sometime this week!