Rookie from Squaw leads freeskiers at Kirkwood |

Rookie from Squaw leads freeskiers at Kirkwood

Provided to the Tribune

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.”

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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.