The snow couches were cut, the boards were waxed and smiles were out for spectators and competitors at The North Face Masters of Snowboarding Friday.
Blustery, overcast conditions weren't ideal for the first day of the annual competition at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, but a winter storm could make for some epic riding during the event's conclusion.
The open competition is a three-stop tour with an overall prize purse of more than $50,000. The championship event is scheduled for April 12-15 at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Utah.
Organizers postponed the Kirkwood event from the beginning of the month due to low snow conditions. And, while their were still plenty of rocks for competitors to consider from the top of the resort's Lookout Vista area, few complaints were heard Friday.
"The snow is definitely rippable," said Tahoe City resident and competitor Moss Halladay, adding riders just need to be cautious when making hard turns.
"It's good, dude. I like it. It's fun," said competitor Ben Devore, who traveled from Bend, Ore., for the event.
South Shore resident and three-year tour veteran Casey Lucas concluded the snow was a kind of sticky, but said a little wax went a long way.
"It was awesome, I had so much fun," Lucas said following her Friday run. She said she expected the effort to get her to Day 2, when all eyes will turn to The Cirque, an area of the resort that is steep, rocky and generally closed to skiers and snowboarders.
"Beautiful" was how Lucas described the glacial formation Friday.
Day 2 of The North Face Masters is scheduled for Saturday, but is likely to move to Sunday if predicted storms materialize.
Ten to 18 inches of snow is expected above 7,000 feet Saturday, with up to six inches expected at lake level, according to a Friday afternoon winter storm watch issued by the National Weather Service in Reno. Wind gusts are predicted to exceed 100 mph over Sierra ridges.
The Kirkwood stop of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, which opens up The Cirque to professional skiers, is scheduled to run from April 5-7, with April 8 and 9 serving as weather days. This year, the Kirkwood event is the championship of the seven-stop tour.