Squaw Valley skier captures freeskiing event at Kirkwood | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Squaw Valley skier captures freeskiing event at Kirkwood

Provided by Mountain Sports International

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.”

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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