Extreme first day in Valdez | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Extreme first day in Valdez

Michael Traum

South Shore extreme skier Yanez Demsar got vertical Sunday during the first day of the seventh annual World Extreme Championships in Valdez, Alaska.

After waiting an extra day for a storm to pass, the competitors got dialed in on “Odyssey,” a run with a 2,500 vertical drop and nearly 50-degree slope. Demsar said his run was smooth and solid, although exhausting.

“There’s not much air involved. I skied a technical, good line. By the end of the run, you’re literally riding your skis to the finish,” said Demsar, one of 28 male competitors.

The hill took its toll on New Zealand’s Bridgette Mead, one of 10 female skiers. She fell at the top of the course and tumbled nearly the entire distance, cracking her helmet open on the rocks before coming to a stop. A helicopter airlifted her to an Anchorage hospital with serious head injuries, according to Demsar.

While first-day results weren’t available before press time, the 27-year-old said he felt good going into today’s second run, which will be held on a different hill with close to 4,000 vertical feet and a consistent 50-degree pitch. The winner will be determined by points accumulated over three days.

“(The) endurance factor will definitely play its role. You also have to compromise about a difficult line as opposed to safety. I always put safety first, primarily, and don’t get drawn into chasing someone radical just going for first place,” said Demsar, who feels more comfortable in his second championships appearance. “I’m much more relaxed; the nervousness is gone. You sometimes get intimidated, though, trying to find a line while standing atop a 4000-foot drop with a 50-degree slope. But difficulty is only one (judging) factor.”

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