Triumph on the Mountain |

Triumph on the Mountain

Dylan Silver
Josh Otto / Provided to the TribuneJosh Daiek, center, tops the podium after winning the Freeskiing World Tour stop at Kirkwood.

KIRKWOOD, Calif. – South Shore’s Josh “Baby J” Daiek stormed the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour Kirkwood stop, topping the field just ahead of Squaw Valley’s Kevin O’Meara.

“For me, I just tried to ski how I always do,” Daiek said. “I have a complex when I ski these comps. I try to ski too fast and go too big. I just tried to have fun.”

With friends and family at the bottom, 27-year-old Daiek was the clear-cut favorite to win the competition. His final run began with long speeding carves through the chopped-up Cirque. Through the middle, Daiek skied away from drop after drop, booting a big air over a bump low on the face and pulling easily into the runout.

“I was planning on getting over a little more skier’s right in the middle there,” Daiek said after the run. “But it was all rock so I had no choice but to point it.”

Before the score was released, a group charged the finish line and tackled the skier in celebration. The score would put him just fractions of a point ahead of second-place finisher, O’Meara.

“Josh skied a fast and fluid line,” said head judge Jim Jack. “With the lead all week, all he had to do was ski a big line and stomp it, and that’s what he did.”

In the semifinals, Daiek launched over a steep section peppered with sharp rocks known as the “meat grinder.” In the middle of the run, he flew off a large cliff few other competitors had even skied close to. He landed the Kodak cliffs and rode into cheers at the bottom. The highest-scoring run of the competition would put him at No. 1 coming into the finals in front of last year’s Kirkwood champion, Dylan Crossman of Utah and Colorado’s Ted Davenport.

Both Davenport and Crossman fell in the final run, opening the door for O’Meara and third-place finisher France’s Guerlain Chicherit.

The competition was forced into two hold days during the last week’s storm, but returned with deeper snow, cold temperatures and cloudless skies. It might have been the best conditions Daiek had ever skied at Kirkwood, he said.

“The consistency of the snow was unbelievable,” Daiek said. “It was hero snow.”

Athletes were judged on control, fluidity, technique and style. Competitors who lost skis during their runs received zero for that run.

The Freeskiing World Tour moves on to the final stop in Snowbird, Utah March 8-13. Daiek will compete at that stop. The competition can be watched live on http://www.freeskiing

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