The US freeskiing open… You know I competed in the open three years in a row. The last two years I haven’t, so it’s been five years since my first time in the slopestyle gate. I never really did well, probably because I just plain wasn’t good enough to be in the contest. The pressure is just insane, and it’s crazy to compete in. Hell my first year was such a gong show… There were 3 backboards in my heat as kids tried to huck themselves to glory and ended up in the hospital. I remember waiting in the gate for like an hour to go, and when I went I pretty much skied the most embarrassing run of all time. Second run was even worse, as due to some course hold and mistake I had to stop for 5 minutes halfway through the run so they could scrape some kid off the course. I did straight airs down the rest of the course and never competed in slopestyle again. That’s what these guys go through though… you’re cold, nervous, haven’t trained enough, and it’s been hours since you’ve actually hit the course, it’s early season so if you’ve probably only hit tiny jumps, you want to win so bad... You wait and wait and wait… and all of a sudden BAM go throw your best tricks you’d be stoked to do properly once in a while. In the qualifiers you always see tonnes of falling. It is an open contest, and anyone can enter. If you win at the open, the entire industry seems to gather behind you and turn you into “the next big thing” So you see kids who are by no means ready going for it with everything they have in hopes of that contract and a shot at being a pro skier. Many of them (like me) find out very quickly that it takes a lot to do well. Hell even if you’re ready and at the top of your game sometimes you just have a bad jump, fall and it’s over. So just remember that when you’re watching these videos and saying “Man I could do that!” Could you really under the conditions? Since it’s the first big contest, you get to see a good cross-section of how everyone is skiing this year. What the new styles are, hottest tricks, popular grabs, etc. I’ve been someone who has been claiming that people need to stop spinning so much and start having some style, and to my delight this year there was a turn towards that. Granted some of the guys were simply chucking the cab millionspins all over the place, but there was a significant amount of the competitors going for style and fluidity. I was also stoked to see some variety in tricks. My brother Dave did MASSIVE flat five true nose on the second jump, and there were others (didn’t catch names) doing weird inverted rotations and stuff which was super cool to see. It would have been nice to have a more technical rail portion of the slopestyle, but sadly it was only a few boxes. It really has always been the way of the open though, a few rails and a bunch of jumps. It really is a jump contest, so if you’re thinking of competing, just make sure your jump skills are down… rails are for some other as of yet non-existing contest. J Just a few years ago with the death of Freeze magazine, the US open was taken over by Skiing magazine. I was really surprised at this, as I had never picked up a copy of this magazine… I thought only my dad read it and that it just wasn’t about us. Honestly I picked up my first copy a few weeks ago, and my opinion didn’t change. I would really like to see the open turn into a contest that really represented our sport and the direction that it is taking. I think that there could be a lot of things done to improve it, such as adding a more technical rail section. Rails are a very important part of the sport, and I wish that there was a better place to showcase this. So if anyone at skiing magazine ever reads this and is really angry by this point, contact me… I’ll help you build the course. Lol… I’m a dick. The video we have here from slopestyle is just the Finals. It would be cool to have the whole thing, but finals really are when all the excitement goes down. These are the guys who inspite of everything fought their way to the finals. Sure some of the big pros just got a bye, but they earned it. Many a career has been made from the finals of the USopen. The first year as I was embarrassing myself I saw these two kids that I recognized from High North wearing Obermeyer clothes. I saw one of them do some huge misty 5’s and cork 7’s and land himself into the finals. Did pretty well, top 10 I think, and little Peter Olenick turned into the pro skier you know him as today. TJ same thing… He had a lot of hype behind him coming into it, but just threw down and won slopestyle. Next thing you know he’s hottest shit out there. From nobody to rockstar in the space of one comp. I really feel this is a bit of a problem with the way our sport has gone over the growth years. If you can’t win the open you aren’t ever going to be anyone… which really is terrible and I think it leaves a lot of talent out there undiscovered simply because they can’t win this contest. Really, if you can’t do a switch millionspin, you’re fucked and are better to save your money and stay at home. Perhaps that’s just my bitterness at a failed pro carreer in skiing, but maybe there’s someone out there that agrees with me. Love it or hate it, the US open is here to stay, and it’s always interesting to see what happens. We’re super happy to have the video for you guys to check out, and admittedly I’m psyched too ‘cause I missed the whole contest skiing back bowls. I watched about 8 runs of finals live, and came down for my Brothers runs. You gotta support the family, right? He was killing it… Cab 5 critical top jump, flat five true nose and a massive sw rodeo 7 tail on the bottom hit. However Dave is one of those guys with the talent, but just always crashes at the open. The great part for the east coasters competing, is the sooner you get eliminated the sooner you can go ride back bowls and use the free passes they gave you to go skiing! Gotta look at the positives, right? Big air is a whole different story. I love watching the big air… it’s actually become a ritual for me and my ski buddies. Every year we take our trip out to the open, a few guys try for fame, and the rest of us just ski pow. It’s a great trip, and ending it with the big air is always amazing. We stand skiers’ left of the jump in a cluster of trees (where they don’t notice you’ve got beers) and just yell our brains out. Everybody always throws down super hard and you get to see all kinds of wild tricks. There’s a division in the contest… you’ve got your cab 7ers and your cab 10+ers… The part that keeps me coming back is when the cab 7 boys try to beat the cab 10 guys by just going insanely big. If you’ve never seen Laurent Favre ski, I highly recommend you make that happen. So much style you could put each one of his tricks on display in an art gallery and people would appreciate it. My only worry watching him is that he’s going to overshoot the jump and die, as he always lands way down in the death zone. Super sick. Between the runs to keep the vibe going, they always let the eliminated athletes session the jump, so you get to see a bunch of guys doing fun tricks as well as the cab 10’s that inevitably get into the finals. The first thing I always notice is how well people land. Since it’s all invite, it’s only riders who know exactly what they’re doing. Everyone who watches it for their first time notices that it’s a total stompfest. If you even wiggle your foot on landing you’re fucked. Cool to see the perfect execution of tricks. It really brings out the best in all of the athletes, and pits the big boys against eachother. Which brings me to the finals…. The whole elimination format makes for an exciting contest. For the top 8, you’ve got one run elimination. Knock out half of them, and seed the last for against each other. It moves to three jump finals, with the winner being the one who takes two of them. Judging is simple, which guy did the better trick. I couldn’t even imagine how intense it would be in the gate up there…. The guy before you throws some super choice trick, and you’ve got to come up with something to match it. It really makes a lot of crazy shit happen though, as demonstrated by TJ and the cab 14… one of the more ridiculous things I have seen in my life. I wonder if we’re going to see the cab 18 next year… or maybe someone will really step it up to the 21. You never really know what’s going to happen as the skiers chuck themselves to fame and fortune. My personal shoutouts in the big air go to JR Martinez, Colby West, Laurent Favre, Tim Russel, Cedric Trembley and all the other guys who kept it to 7. Looked dope. Also have to give credit to all the riders who put down some of the best sw 10’s that have ever been done. Hard trick to pull off in the moment. Alright, you’re probably bored out of your tree now, or perhaps just skipped all the writing, so I’ll stop. Enjoy, and if you come out next year and get eliminated quickly, come ride the bowls with me!-Doug And now... the videos!SlopestyleBig air (low quality)Big air (high quality)