Squaw skier wins World Freeskiing Championships | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Squaw skier wins World Freeskiing Championships

Nobody told Tim Dutton there was a learning curve in big-mountain skiing competition. So he skipped right past that part. Dutton, a Squaw Valley USA lifer and former aerialist as a teen, established this past Sunday that he’s more than capable of competing with the big boys of the freeskiing world ” despite being as green as they come in the discipline. In just his second-ever big-mountain contest, the 22-year-old posted the high score on consecutive days en route to winning the Subaru World Freeskiing Championships at Alyeska Resort in Alaska. The men’s field was 29 skiers deep, and loaded with competitive experience. The win kept Dutton’s undefeated record intact, as he also captured victory in his first-ever big-mountain competition, the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood the weekend of March 21. “I really didn’t even want to do it,” Dutton said about the Kirkwood stop of the Freeskiing World Tour. “One of my buddies totally talked me into it.” Because Dutton fought fires last summer in the woods of Oregon, the Porters Tahoe-sponsored skier missed his window of opportunity to register for the Freeskiing World Tour. But when he received an e-mail from a friend offering him her roommate’s spot in the Kirkwood event, all it took was a little prodding. The rocky venue, known as The Cirque, contributed to his decision. “It was held on The Cirque, and I’ve wanted to ski The Cirque since I was a kid,” Dutton said. “It’s kind of like Tram Face at Squaw in that you’re not able to ski it (legally). So I was stoked to ski that.” The normally closed section of the mountain did not disappoint, Dutton said. Nor did the gnarly lines on the slopes of Alyeska, which received 15 inches of new snow on the first day of competition, postponing the contest a day. “There was pow for days,” Dutton said, describing the Alyeska terrain as steep and fast “with lots of cool drops.” Day 1 of the invite-only contest was held on The Knuckles, a 1,000-vertical-foot run off Alyeska’s North Face, according to a Freeskiing World Tour release. Dutton, who worked as many features as he could on his run, took the lead ahead of Lars Chickering-Ayers, Luke Nelson and Cliff Bennett. The contest moved to the top of The Headwall for Day 2. After scouting out the mountain while boot-packing to the top, Dutton impressed the judges with an aggressive line in which he aired over rocks and skied fast and confidently through exposed terrain ” scoured by an avalanche that Alyeska Ski Patrol set off that morning. “My whole thing was trying to out-jump everybody, and just skiing fast and strong,” said Dutton, adding that his biggest cliff-drop was in the 25- to 30-foot range, which is relatively small compared to some of the cliffs he’s dropped at Squaw. “… I’ve gotten myself into sketchier situations than that, for sure.” Again his run impressed the four judges, who awarded him the top spot ahead of Chickering-Ayers, Julien Lopez (the overall Freeskiing World Tour champ), Nelson and Bennett. Now with two big-mountain contest wins under his belt in as many attempts, Dutton said he’ll likely compete in more Freeskiing World Tour stops next season. Asked if he’s discovered his niche in skiing, Dutton replied with a humble answer. “Yeah, I guess you could say that. I just have so much fun doing it, and I think that’s why I’ve done well. I tell my friends that the best skier out there is the one with the biggest smile on his face.”

Rookie from Squaw leads freeskiers at Kirkwood

Big-mountain rookie Tim Dutton of Squaw Valley took the surprise men’s lead at the 12th annual Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships on Friday at Kirkwood Mountain Resort. Meanwhile, Norway’s Karine Falck-Pedersen, who skied one of her best runs of the season, tied women’s Freeskiing World Tour leader Crystal Wright for the top spot. Charging under perfect blue skies, the women started the event on the Cirque. The judges definitely preferred the fast, aggressive skiing of Wright and Falck-Pedersen, who both gunned it down the fall line. Both women are former ski racers who competed against each other in college. “It is funny,” said Wright, “everyone is like ‘you are leading (the tour), so you should have tons of confidence,’ but for me it is the opposite. I feel all of this pressure.” A first-place tie for Falck-Pedersen is the best the former University of Denver All-American racer has done on the tour all season. “I prefer to go fast and to go into airs with speed rather than messing around with bumps,”Falck-Pedersen said. “Like I was thinking about going into the big air that a lot of girls were going into, but it was a mogul field above it. I figured I would straight line the chute instead, and I am really glad I did.” In third place was Squaw Valley’s Katharine Lange, who also skied a fast and fluid line. While the top three women were awarded for speed, props went out to Kirkwood’s Amy Holland and Hazel Birnbaum, two of the only women who ventured into the technical tree-and-a-half section. Telluride’s Emily Teague also got some cheers from the crowd when she went for a backflip at the end of the run. Unfortunately, she wasn’t quite able to get it around. For the men, beginner’s good luck trumped experience. Competing in his first-ever big- mountain competition was Squaw Valley 22-year-old Dutton, who skied one of the fastest and smoothest runs of the day, which he capped with a backflip. “I was just playing it and feeling it out as I went along, and it went well,”Dutton said. Dutton hails from legendary ski stock. His mother, Debbie Dutton, played Shannon Tweed’s stunt double in the cult classic “Hot Dog.” In second place was Snowbird’s Nick Greener, who held the lead for most of the competition until Dutton bumped him at the end. Greener skied a tricky line to looker’s right with finesse, and he easily maneuvered through the Cirque’s unrelenting terrain from top to bottom.  Rounding out the top three for the men was Squaw Valley’s John Lange, who charged into the tree-and-a-half section and boosted a triple air. “ Twelve women and 27 men from Friday’s event will advance to Saturday’s finals and superfinals. On “Super Saturday,” competitors will take on looker’s left of the Cirque. “This side of the Cirque has a lot more consequences,” said head judge Jim Jack, warning competitors about the permanently closed area.

Squaw Valley skier captures freeskiing event at Kirkwood

Snowy conditions didn’t stop hardy fans from attending the final day of the 2009 Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships on Saturday at Kirkwood Mountain Resort. The third stop of the 2009 Freeskiing World Tour saw 39 athletes battle it out on the mountain’s permanently closed Cirque. While blustery conditions limited the competition to a one run final instead of two, competitors still put on a spectacular show. In the end, first-time big mountain competitor and Squaw Valley local Tim Dutton sealed the deal for the men, while Whistler’s Sonja Lercher earned her first ever FWT win. French favorite Julien Lopez dropped a big technical air for the coveted Backcountry.com Sickbird award, while up and coming ripper Becca Lefanowicz from Magic Mountain, Calif., earned The North Face Young Gun award. The Cirque is a burly venue with a variety of untouched tight lines and huge airs. The venue was extra tough because snow conditions were variable and visibility was often poor. “The conditions weren’t ideal,” said longtime competitor Nick Greener, “but all of the competitors made the hard conditions look easy.” A total of 12 women started the competition and all of them attacked the expansive terrain. Sonja Lercher’s winning run stood out immediately. A former junior racer for the German National Team, Sonja skied fall line for most of her run and then aired into Frankie’s chute, one of the steepest and narrowest areas of the whole venue. “I came here two years ago for the first time, and I inspected and looked at that line, and I was pretty impressed by it,” said Lercher, “but I was like, ‘no it doesn’t go’. Then Rachael Burks skied it, and she got third place. For two years now, that line has been lingering in my head, and I have really wanted to ski it, so today was the day.” Finishing second for the ladies with her typical fast and fluid style was Crystal Wright, who ran last for the women. Wright also skied fall line and dropped into Frankie’s chute, but she skipped the air that Lercher hit, which might have been the difference between first and second. As the current Tour leader coming into Kirkwood, the Jackson Hole skier will continue to wear the yellow jersey heading into the final FWT stop in Alaska. Rounding out the podium in third for her first ever FWT podium was Jacqui Edgerly from Aspen, who skied one of the most creative lines of the day on far looker’s left. Edgerly hit two sizeable airs on the way down and definitely got points for charging in tough conditions. Kirkwood’s Amy Holland finished eighth. Lefanowicz, 18, became the first woman skier this season to earn The North Face Young Gun Award–an award given to the most promising up and coming big mountain ripper. “Becca was really fast and fluid, and she picked off a lot of little hits on the way down,” said head judge Jim Jack about Becca’s impressive run that put her in 10th place overall. A total of 27 men reached the final day starting in reverse order of the finish from day one. Big mountain rookie Tim Dutton, who finished first on Friday therefore ran last, sat through weather hold after weather hold as he waited for his turn. The rookie rider proved he was tough under pressure though, and he skied such a fast line with fun airs that he maintained his position at the top of the leader board. When asked how he overcame the adverse conditions, Dutton bestowed the crowd with this wisdom, “I have a good friend that says that every day is a powder day, sometimes you just have to sharpen your skis and turn up your Ipod.” Following Dutton in second was France’s Julien Lopez who won the last FWT stop in Snowbird. Not only did Lopez earn his second FWT podium of the season, but he also earned the coveted Backcountry.com Sickbird award when he boosted a huge air out of Frankie’s Chute. The Sickbird award is a belt buckle given to the rider who best demonstrates super-human talent and agility. “We are all here for the same reason,” said the competitive Frenchman, “and that is to grab the (Freeride World Tour) title.” Lopez is now well on his way. Sneaking in right behind Lopez on the podium was Squaw Valley’s John Lange. Lange was one of the only riders to flash the Hanging Snow Garden section, which required two tricky airs. Kirkwood’s Craig Garbiel tied for 10th. The FWT tour continues on to the final stop of the tour, the Subaru Freeskiing World Championships, April 8-12, at Alyeska Resort, Alaska. Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships At Kirkwood Mountain Resort Saturday’s World Tour Final Results WOMEN ATHLETE NAME BIB COUNTRY HOME RESORT RUN 1 TOTAL RUN 2 TOTAL TOTAL 1&2 1 Sonja Lercher 19 CAN Blackcomb 32.13 38.00 70.13 2 Crystal Wright 12 USA Jackson Hole 34.25 35.06 69.31 3 Jacqui Edgerly 38 USA Aspen 32.00 36.00 68.00 4 Katharine Lange 40 USA Squaw Valley 33.25 32.63 65.88 5 Hannah Whitney 35 USA Alta 30.75 34.38 65.13 6 Karine Falck-Pedersen 31 NOR Squaw Valley 34.25 30.81 65.06 7 Rebecca Selig 21 USA Timber Ridge 31.13 32.63 63.75 8 Amy Holland 45 USA Kirkwood 30.50 32.75 63.25 9 Phillipa Hunt 13 USA Crested Butte 30.75 31.25 62.00 10 Becca Lefanowicz 75 USA 30.88 21.13 52.00 11 Brittani Ballantyne 79 USA Kirkwood 30.38 19.25 49.63 12 Hazel Birnbaum 93 USA Kirkwood 32.50 12.63 45.13 MEN ATHLETE NAME BIB COUNTRY HOME RESORT RUN 1 TOTAL RUN 2 TOTAL TOTAL 1&2 1 Tim Dutton 92 USA Squaw Valley 37.06 43.13 80.19 2 Julien Lopez 2 FRA La Plagne 34.38 38.63 73.00 3 John Lange 33 USA Squaw Valley 36.13 36.44 72.56 4 Aaron Schmidt 25 CAN Fernie 34.69 37.13 71.81 5 Garrett Altmann 74 USA Mammoth/Alyeska 35.94 35.38 71.31 6 Nick Greener 32 USA Snowbird 37.00 34.00 71.00 7 Dylan Crossman 28 USA Alta/Mad River Glen 33.25 37.50 70.75 8 Matt Potter 8 USA Vail 35.75 34.94 70.69 9 Mathieu Gagnon Theriault 11 CAN Whistler/Blackcomb 32.19 37.50 69.69 10 Fred Mooney 57 USA Winter Park 32.25 36.88 69.13 10 Craig Garbiel 54 USA Kirkwood 33.25 35.88 69.13 12 Caleb Mullen 3 USA Crested Butte 34.06 34.81 68.88 13 Scott Hanichen 71 USA Squaw Valley 33.25 35.25 68.50 14 Travis Hart Wolfe 22 USA Telluride 32.50 35.25 67.75 15 Langdon Adams 66 USA Aspen 32.44 34.19 66.63 16 Lachlin Kinsella 43 USA Squaw Valley 34.13 31.44 65.56 17 Eddie Schelert 44 USA Squaw Valley 31.75 33.50 65.25 18 Mark Welgos 82 USA Aspen 34.13 30.75 64.88 19 Spencer Brinson 58 USA Kirkwood 31.63 32.81 64.44 20 Kent Hyden 37 USA Alta 31.75 30.56 62.31 21 Nick Devore 63 USA Aspen 32.25 28.00 60.25 22 Cliff Bennett 1 USA Snowbird 33.00 24.75 57.75 23 Ed Dujardin 76 USA Crested Butte 33.38 24.00 57.38 24 Jesse Bryan 52 USA Alta/Bird 36.13 20.00 56.13 25 Daniel Zeffaro 65 USA Dodge Ridge 33.00 20.25 53.25 26 Dave Stratton 70 USA Kirkwood 33.25 16.25 49.50 27 Whit Boucher 86 USA Vail 32.25 16.13 48.38

Coalition to help parents guide kids through Tahoe’s high-risk sports climate

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — When local and legendary athlete Erik Roner died in a skydiving accident near Squaw Valley ski resort on Sept. 28, it shook the Lake Tahoe action sports community to its core. Moreover, it shook up a lot of the Tahoe region's parents — especially those with children participating in action sports. As a result, many of those parents went to Dr. Robb Gaffney, a sports psychiatrist and founder of http://www.sportgevity.com, an information website geared toward creating longevity and sustainability in sports. "The death of Erik Roner prompted many parents to come forward with their concerns," said Gaffney, a lifelong skier and father of two. In response to the growing concerns, Gaffney and a group of local experts — composed of sports psychologists, ski coaches, Olympic athletes and other community members — organically formed the Go Bigger Coalition. "The Go Bigger Coalition," Gaffney said, "is taking up one of the biggest issues facing families today in mountain culture: raising children in a such a way they remain alive and healthy so that they can live life to the fullest." MOVING AWAY FROM RISK The fact remains that Roner's death was only the latest in an unfortunate string of tragedies within the Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley skiing community. Since 2008, nine Tahoe-area athletes have died at various locations across the world, according to previous reports. "I've had a lot of parents come up to me over the years and ask if they should be moving down to the ocean to get their kids out of the risk environment of the mountains," Gaffney said. "To me, that's a red flag that the culture isn't necessarily heading in the right direction. And these are people that have skied their whole lives and have multi-generational ski families. "This is their home and they're considering leaving the mountains. That says a lot about the action sports climate in general." Gaffney said that while many in the community are thinking about the high-risk culture and the path it's paving for children, few are discussing it publicly. GBC member John Walsh, a US Ski Team athlete and Squaw Valley ski coach, said the coalition is an important aspect to opening that discussion. His nephew Timy Dutton, a Tahoe native and professional freeskiing master, died in a skydiving accident in 2014 in Acampo, California. "It hurts my family every day," Walsh said. "I feel some bad decisions were made that day due to the cool GoPro shot — not OK. "Should we continue as a community supporting and pushing the mentality that it is cool and without serious consequences, many times serious injuries or even death?" Walsh asked. "Or should we start the conversation that longevity and doing it for the soul is the best way to respect any sport you love?" For more information about the coalition, visit http://www.sportgevity.com.

Rocky season for freeskiers Burge, Coirier rise to top on cliffs of Squaw

SquawValley’s Jamie Burge and Adrien Coirier of Les Arcs, France, came out on top of a stacked international field during the inaugural Subaru Squaw Valley USA Freeskiing Open from Thursday through Saturday. The event, an official stop on the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series, took place in mild conditions in the Enchanted Forest and Cornice II areas, where more than 3 feet of new snow covered the rocky, cliff-strewn terrain. Sitting in first slot going into the final morning’s run, freeskiing legend and ski movie regular Burge solidified her lead on the women’s field with a smooth and aggressive run, which included a 20-foot cliff drop. Burge went into her second run six points ahead of Jess McMillan of Jackson Hole, Wyo. The remaining top six women who advanced to the finals were Jess McMillan, Katharine Lange, Kate Olson, Emily Turner and Molly Baker. They remained in that order after the superfinals. “I love Squaw Valley. I ski here everyday,” Burge said. “I still compete because competitions are great, they really make you push yourself. It forces you to step it up and be competitive and it’s fun. You get to see everybody. I’m so honored to represent Squaw today and win this.” Men’s field bunched together After Thursday’s qualifier round, only 8.6 points separated all 32 men who advanced, creating a competitive final round. First-run standouts included Ben Wheeler’s fast-and-smooth run, which incorporated a 15-foot cliff drop to a straight line; Kevin O’Meara’s gigantic, perfectly executed double drop off the top section of the venue, which won him a Sickbird nomination; Kirkwood’s Craig Garbiel’s aggressive airs and gap jump; and Coirier’s well-executed run that catapulted him into first place going into the superfinals. The superfinals on Friday began with former U.S. Ski Team speed skiing legend Daron Rahlves and Gunner Newquist putting on a spectacle by skiing together in unison, straight-lining the entire top portion of the venue and airing a 25-foot cliff near the bottom. In the superfinals, nine of the 16 men who advanced were nominated for the Sickbird award for their risk-taking and creativity. Coirier, who was more than two points ahead of O’Meara going into the finals, skied fast and nailed a huge straight-line with two 20-foot cliffs throughout the middle of the venue to win the competition by nearly 10 points. Coirier now leads the overall points standings for the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series. “I have been working so hard for this,” Coirier said. “I was running out of money before the winter because I spent all my money in the summer training for this. Today the skiing was just like my mountains in France; it was really good snow and the line I did was exactly what I like to ski. It was perfect and I’m so happy to have won another event.” O’Meara, a Squaw Valley resident, won the Tobias Lee Memorial Sickbird buckle award for the most spirited competition run. Up next The Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series continues in three weeks at the 10th Anniversary of the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird, Utah. Additional stops to the U.S. Freeskiing Series, which has grown from four stops to five in 2007, include the Subaru Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open at Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood on March 26 through April 1. – Tribune News Service

Freeskiing tour not stopping at Kirkwood

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is considered one of the continent’s premier big-mountain venues for extreme skiing and riding, making it a natural venue for the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships. And every spring, the party at the bottom of the “Cirque” has become a Sierra Nevada pastime, with music, dancing and revelers watching athletes hucking off nearby cliffs. But for the first time in 12 seasons, the tour will not be passing through Kirkwood. “Due to a scheduling conflict, Kirkwood will not be hosting the North American Freeskiing Championships in 2008,” said resort spokesman Daniel Pistoresi. “This conflict arose due to Mountain Sports International – the entity that sponsors the tour – wanting to give its staff and competitors additional travel/setup time for the World Extreme Championships that are being held in Alyeska, Alaska. Kirkwood and MSI will revisit hosting the North American Freeskiing Championships in 2009.” The tour attracts the top freeskiers and snowboarders in the world to Kirkwood’s slopes. This year, the tour has already visited Telluride, Squaw Valley and Crested Butte. Kirkwood skier Craig Garbiel won the Squaw Valley event and has been competing this month on the world tour in Europe. He is ranked second in the world standings, while fellow Kirkwood skier Josh Daiek placed third in Telluride. Both skiers rank among the top 10 in national standings. Jackson Hole is hosting an event this week and Snowbird next week before the Subaru Freeskiing World Championships and U.S. Freeskiing Finals are being held April 9-13 in Alyeska. “I totally expect it to return next year,” Pistoresi said. “It just came down to a scheduling conflict. We had the dates of March 29-April 1 locked in, but on their end, those dates weren’t going to work. On our end, the dates were locked in because we had to get a special-use permit for the Cirque. It’s a bigger organizational effort than most people realize, but we plan on it coming back next year.”

More good Far West results for Kashima, Royce

Older and more experienced Far West freestyle skiers have claimed most of the division’s bump contests this winter. However, Heavenly’s Courtney Royce and Sho Kashima are leaving few second- and third-place finishes for the opposition. Kashima finished second and third and Royce placed third and 11th in a pair of Far West singles competitions Saturday and Sunday at Heavenly Ski Resort. Kashima was the J2 division winner each day along with his impressive runner-up finish to winner Jesse Jenison of Squaw Valley on Saturday and third-place effort in Sunday’s competition won by Kevin Gagne of Squaw Valley. Royce was third in Saturday’s competition, which was won by McKenzy Golding of Squaw Valley. Golding also was No. 1 on Sunday. Jerel Dutton and Thomas Schwindeman were consistently good as well. Dutton was fourth overall Saturday and fifth Sunday and runner-up in the J2 class on both days. Meanwhile, Schwindeman was seventh overall and the third J2 on each day. “Dutton, Kashima, Nageote and Schwindeman are contenders now,” said Heavenly coach Jere Crawford. Other results by area athletes on Saturday included: Ryan Hickey, Heavenly, fifth overall and third senior; Luke Palmieri, Sierra-at-Tahoe, 10th overall and fourth J2; Eric Nageotte, Heavenly, 13th overall and fifth J2; Jimmy Roberts, Heavenly, 19th overall and first J4; Brandon Morgan, Heavenly, 35th overall and third J4; Scott Lusby, Heavenly, 41st overall and 12th J2; Corey Noreikat, Heavenly, 48th overall and fifth J4; Marshall Curtzweiler, independent, 49th overall and second J5; and Mac Cerceo, Heavenly, 55th overall and 12th J3. “Marshall and Hannah Curtzweiler, Corey Noreikat and Mac Cerceo all looked good for their first time competing,” Crawford said. Sunday’s results were: Hickey, ninth overall and third senior; Nageotte, 10th overall and fourth J2; Roberts, 12th overall and first J4; Palmieri, 13th overall and fifth J2; Morgan, 36th overall and fifth J4; and Cerceo, 40th overall and eighth J3. In Sunday’s duals competition, Golding made it a clean sweep of the weekend events in the women’s division. Royce tied for ninth. Nick Hansom of Sun Valley, Idaho, won the men’s duals. Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe produced the next three finishes, with Dutton, Schwindeman and Palmieir placing second through fourth. Roberts and Nageotte tied for ninth, while Kashima struggled to a tie for 17th. Far West action continues Saturday and Sunday at Sierra-at-Tahoe.

Panthers wins first Far West event

Tribune staff reports With No. 1 skier Sho Kashima struggling with malfunctioning bindings and an illness, Jay Panther took it upon himself to keep Heavenly atop the podium in the Far West Freestyle Division. Panther won his first Far West event – dual moguls – Sunday on a steep coure in North Bowl at Squaw Valley. Panther defeated teammate Jerel Dutton in the finals. “It could have gone either way. They were both skiing great all day,” said Heavenly coach Jere Crawford. Dutton, however, got the best of Panther during a pair of singles events Saturday and Sunday. Dutton was fourth on each day with scores of 22.07 and 22.12, while Panther was sixth twice, scoring 21.94 and 21.54. McKenzy Golding of Squaw Valley swept all three contests for females, while Tony Basile of Squaw Valley and Jeff Bahrke of Alpine Meadows each won a singles event for males. Luke Palmieri provided Sierra-at-Tahoe’s top performance, finishing 12th overall (19.20) in the first singles contest. Heavenly’s Courtney Royce had a solid weekend, placing fourth overall in singles Saturday (20.36), third Sunday (19.82) and seventh in duals. Other Heavenly results from Saturday included: Hannah Curtzwiler, 10th overall and second J4, 10.05; Eric Nageotte, 10th and second J1, 20.53; Brandon Morgan, 13th and second J3, 16.27; Marshall Curtzwiler, 22nd and second J5, 11.97; Jimmy Roberts, 27th and fifth J3, 10.21; Cory Noreikat, 36th and ninth J4, 5.81; Kashima, 44th and sixth J1, 3.60. Marina Palmieri of Sierra was 14th overall and fifth J4 with her run of 6.06. On Sunday for Heavenly, Roberts made a marked improvement, taking fifth and distinguishing himself as the top J3 with a score of 21.71. Also, Nageotte was eighth overall and second J1, 19.97; Hannah Curtzwiler, 10th and fourth J4, 8.32; Morgan, 21st and fourth J3, 10.43; Noreikat, 27th and fifth J4, 7.95; Marshall Curtzwiler, 31st and fifth J5, 6.93. Heavenly’s next competition is scheduled for Feb. 7-8 on its home course – Gunbarrel run.

Bumper crop of top-10 for Heavenly in Far West opener

Heavenly Foundation moguls coach Jere Crawford can get used to what transpired during the opening weekend of the Far West freestyle season. His team enjoyed nine top-10 finishes in a pair of singles moguls events last Saturday and Sunday on Red Dog Run at Squaw Valley USA. In addition, Eric Nageotte surprised the field to win his first duals event Sunday, with teammates Sho Kashima second and Thomas Schwindeman fourth. Kashima and Courtney Royce finished the weekend with third and fourth-place overall finishes. Royce was the top J3 girl on each day, generating scores of 19.08 and 18.96. Kashima was fourth (22.65) on the first day of singles and third the second day (22.05). “The first couple of years we had a team, (Chris) Hernandez, (Travis) Ramos and Brooke (Ballachey) had some pretty strong years. The last couple of years have been rebuilding years; now we’re starting to come into our prime again,” Crawford said. “We’ll actually be better next year, because they haven’t physically matured yet.” Heavenly’s other top-10 finishers in singles moguls Saturday were Jerel Dutton, third; Thomas Schwindeman, sixth; and Jason Strull, 10th. On Sunday, Dutton was fifth and Schwindeman eighth, joining Royce and Kashima in the top 10. The high overall marks also meant that Heavenly’s bumper crop did well in the division breakdown. Strull, Dutton and Jimmy Roberts won their J1, J2 and J4 classes, respectively. Kashima and Royce were division winners on Sunday. Squaw Valley’s Kevin Gagne won both men’s contests, while U.S. Ski Team member Shelly Robertson, ranked sixth in the World Cup standings, won the women’s title Saturday with a score of 24.30. Brent Abrams, who is sponsored by Heavenly but not part of the foundation team, was ninth in Saturday’s contest with a score of 21.71. He was 19th on Sunday at 14.61. Other Heavenly results from Saturday included: Nageotte, 21st overall, 17.02; Derek Clemmensen, 25th, 16.67 and Brandon Morgan, 26th overall and second J4, 16.19. Sunday’s results reflected that Nageotte took 12th overall and sixth in his J2 class with a mark of 17.55 and Chris Craig was 36th overall and the eighth J2. Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Tamara Stamey was 10th overall in the first moguls event and the third J2. Teammate Luke Palmieri was 24th overall and 10th in the J2 standings. Dutton was in a logjam tied for ninth in duals and Craig and Abrams shared 33rd place with others. Far West racing returns to Squaw Valley this wekend. Singles moguls are Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. A duals competition will follow singles action Sunday.

Livin’ the Free life in the Sierra

With the past two seasons being defined by snow more than sun, this year’s Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood Mountain Resort was highlighted by 60-degree temperatures and bluebird skies. A crowd of several hundred gathered in the meadow at the base of “The Cirque,” Kirkwood’s legendary region of chutes and cliffs that ski patrol only opens for this event. When the crowd craned their collective necks to monitor the course on Saturday, they witnessed Kirkwood’s Craig Garbiel win the men’s skier division and Laura Ogden of Crystal Mountain, Wash., win the women’s skier division. When Garbiel – ranked third in the 2007 Subaru U.S. Freeskiing standings – and the other skiers finished their run, they were greeted by cheers from the crowd. In between runs, spectators mingled, sipped cold beers and listened to 50 Cent over the loud speakers. In addition to sponsorship tents such as Red Bull erected in the meadow, lawn chairs and ice chests peppered the viewing area. Dogs chased one and shirtless guys worked on their tans. Glimpses of the spring break-type atmosphere were also evident on Friday when Squaw Valley rider Ralph Backstrom won the men’s snowboard division and Snowbird, Utah, ripper Shannon Yates captured the women’s snowboard division. For complete results, visit http://www.usfreeskiing.com. Men’s Skier Division 1. Craig Garbiel, Kirkwood 2. Guerlain Chicherit, Tignes, France 3. Christian Boucher, Whistler, B.C. Women’s Skier Division 1. Laura Ogden, Crystal Mtn, Wash. 2. Elyse Saugstad, Squaw Valley 3. Rachael Burks, Alta, Utah Men’s Snowboard Division 1. Ralph Backstrom, Squaw Valley 2. Tyrus Fisher, Kirkwood 3. Dan Krenicki, Squaw Valley Women’s Snowboard Division 1. Shannon Yates, Snowbird, Utah 2. Laura Dewey, Snowbird, Utah 3. Maria Kuzma, Fernie, B.C. Tobias Lee Memorial Sickbird Winner Drew Tabke, United States