SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. - Squaw Valley local Iris Lazzareschi and Ruari MacFarlane of New Zealand were crowned Masters Champions among a highly competitive field in the 4-star The North Face Masters of Snowboarding presented by PrimaLoft on Friday.
A total of 53 men and 16 women competed. And they all their work cut out for them, as conditions under Squaw's Cornice II chairlift were challenging at best, with hardpack snow and bumpy traverse lines throughout the venue.
Nevertheless, the competitors impressed judges and spectators alike with dynamic and creative lines.
"Today was impressive because there was so much hard charging on really tough conditions," said Masters Head Judge Jim Zellers. "The riders really exceeded our expectations. They played it smart and rode some lines I honestly did not think could be done today."
In the women's field, Lazzareschi, hit a solid cliff at the top, which continued to be her namesake throughout the competition. She rode a fluid run integrating many air and style elements, including a half-cab and grabs. Lazzareschi's run earned her a high score of 85.00.
"Iris really stomped her run top to bottom with solid airs on the top and consistency the whole way through," said judge Andy Finch. "She really showed control in challenging conditions."
In second place, Kirkwood local Casey Lucas ripped her run, linking clean and fast turns. Marisa Krawczak of Nubs Nob, Mich., pointed it out of the gate and maintained dynamite speed her entire run to earn third.
Competing after the women, MacFarlane's run started with a clean 360 at the top. He maintained a fluid, high-speed run down the looker's right side of the venue, hitting numerous airs. Despite the hard conditions, McFarlane then proceeded to charge off a huge cliff in a highly technical area and sailed into the finish. The judges applauded his performance with a high score of 89.33.
North Shore local Sammy Luebke finished runner-up with a score of 85.00. Luebke's run delighted the crowded as he actually started by scurrying up the ridge and quickly dropping into huge frontside 360. He then brought his run back under control, maintaining fluidity through a highly technical section. Luebke finished his run with a solid backside 360.
In third place, Hans Mindich may have executed one of the most unconventional runs in Masters' history, earning an 83.67 score. Mindich dropped into his run switch, executing a backside 180 near the top. He continued to ride the majority of his incredibly fast line switch, accelerating a backside 180 off a large cliff on the looker's right side of the venue.
In addition to his podium spot, Mindich was recognized as the Young Gun of the event - a tradition that celebrates a rider under 21 rider who demonstrates raw talent, an innovative riding style and exemplifies true sportsmanship and passion for the mountains.
Ryan Hudson was given the A-Rob awarded for tackling two massive cliffs, despite falling during the landing of the first. The A-Rob award is in honor and memory of the late Master's champion Aaron Robinson. The A-Rob award captures the spirit of the community and desire to explore the mountains.
The North Face Masters is part of the Freeride World Qualifier system. FWQs are rated on a 1- to 4-star scale, with competitors earning more or less points at events according to venue difficulty and scale, competitive pool and other factors. The Masters is the top-level qualifier event and a pivotal step for athletes hoping to advance to the SWATCH Freeride World Tour by The North Face.