The venues here at Crested Butte have been exposed to warm winds and sun for a few weeks. Conditions were firm with a hint of chalky snow and very low coverage, but not ice. Which might sound bad considering we all love pow but, last years event at CB was bullet proof ice. So, after the inspection day we were stoked to go shred the hell out of the venue with just a hint of caution. Danger, rocks, rocks, everywhere.
Day 1 (Qualifiers) Headwall Venue
Competition on Headwall with more rocks than snow covering Angle Gully; which is the highest line score of the day according to the judges.
The day started with a 45 minute inspection run, crowded with athletes shoulder to shoulder gazing over the cliff edge into Angle Gully. The air was chocked full of anticipation and thoughts of certain core shots along your chosen run. Even with the entire venue open for inspection, each of us knew not to enter the Gully in thoughts to preserve what little snow was in place. Each turn that was made above the last cliffs band was a thin layer of firm snow with nothing but rotten depth hoar underneath. Each athlete did their best to tip toe around one another in and out of inspection areas. This constant movement created a never ending cascade of snow down The Headwall. These first hand experiences of collapsing rotten snow hours before your competition run tends to develop your final line choice. Both of us decided to run the gully with two different airs out of the bottom section. The first choke had more rocks than snow and made the exposure over the cliff below intimidating. It worked best to boost over the choke and clear the rocks into a powered control turn to set our selfs up for the final exit air. We both landed into the top 12 spots of 28 riders that qualified us for the finals on Sock-It-To-Me Ridge (Finals).
PHOTO Day 1: Headwall Qualifier Venue
PHOTO Day 1: Headwall with clear view of Angle Gully gashing through the middle.
After feeling good about stomping both our runs we knew it was time to go inspect the finals day venue as we were confident we would make the cut. There was no official word but we heard rumors that the 2nd day venue was Staircase. We went and inspected and and immediately were turned off due to the horrific conditions of more rocks, if that's possible, and ice.
Later that afternoon a different finals day venue was announced to be on Sock-It-To-Me Ridge and was a huge relief. We hadn't previously ridden this venue but were nonetheless pumped about this venue as it has less sharks and better snow. Now, just one more night of mentally preparing for another day of competition tomorrow and getting our line choices dialed so we can stay on our feet and stomp our airs!
Day 2 (Finals) Sock-It-To-Me Ridge Venue
PHOTO: Zach Husted Sock-It-To-Me Finals Venue
Sock-It-To-Me Ridge was a last minute venue change from The Staircase. Thankfully the organizers recognized the horrific conditions on Staircase and made the swap. Can honestly say that everyone was stoked. This venue has many more options for a decent line score so not everybody had the same line choice which made the venue so fun and kept the snow in better condition. With plenty of cliffs near the bottom created many mandatory air options.
The morning of the finals, everyone was frothing for this venue since it had so many options including some huge airs with steep, fairly smooth landings. It was safe to say people put their sending socks on today. After seeing the venue it was clear that the lines that would score best would be ones that were fast and fluid up top, and include a sizeable air with a clean stomp near the bottom with quickly shutting down speed to show control.
We had time to watch a few of the female skiers run before we had to head up to the top. The first few that we had time to watch did exactly as expected for a high score. Each one had their own final air at the bottom but none of them could shut it down as they came screaming into the finish and crashed through the b-net at the bottom that protected all spectators, announcers, and judges. After seeing that, we realized how important it was to control speed at the bottom to get a good control score.
Zach's Run: Came down the top section in the center of the venue hitting a rock drop between the trees, not visible in pic, and continuing to the lookers's right drainage. Last hit had many options out of the mandatory choke, decided to cut to a hanging takeoff and send it lookers right just out of view. In the end, I finished in 7th place.
"Felt good stomping back to back runs for the two days after only three weeks on snow this season. Definitely ready to send it larger for the upcoming events and make an impact this FWQ Series."
Brian's Run: Came down the top section in the center and hit a rock drop between the trees, not visible in pic. Then continued looker's left over some sharky rocks and unfortunately got tossed into few tomahawks through trees but came up right to his feet. Continuing farther looker's left, to find the tight chute (mini hourglass) with a 15ft mandatory air at the end. In the end, Finished in 10th place with the fall and a very swollen ankle.
"Stoked to get the first event under the belt, but my ankle needs lots of time to heal now. I'm just hoping to be ready for the next event and the rest of this incredible road trip."