Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird

For the past eleven seasons spring time at Snowbird Resort means goggle tans, tall boys and the Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals. For eleven years people have been welcoming spring by hucking their meat right here at our very own Snowbird Resort. It is the event that showcases some of the best skiing in the world from skiers that you have never heard of. It’s the second stop in the Freeskiing World Tour, and apart of the US Freeskiing tour. Locals at the Bird have made it a springtime tradition to slap on the sun block, get boozed up, and watch brave skiers send it down some of Utah’s burliest faces. The success and longevity of the event and tour is greatly due to the silky smooth operations from the experts at Mountain Sports International and their elite team of ninjas. Over the years this event has been a battlefield for local Wasatch shredders to defend their home terrain on the Freeskiing Tour. This year proved to be no different with the many of the athletes hailing from right here in the mighty Wasatch.

Usually the timing of the event coincides with shitty snow, and beaten up landings. This year proved to be different though, due to the epic winter we have been experiencing. The venues at Snowbird were looking more filled in than ever and a little bit smaller. Cliffs that once seemed to be ridiculously huge only appeared huge. In all honesty, it’s the shitty conditions that often make the event more exciting. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch someone send forty-foot cliffs into a mogul field? People make the pilgrimage to Snowbird’s gnarly venues from all over the world for this event: from the far eastern corners of Tokyo, Japan to the stank landfills of Pine Nob, Michigan.

The event was kicked off with a beautiful bluebird day on West Baldy. The list of skiers was long and the snow was sun baked, but soft. The temperature rose to a roasting forty degrees and the refreshing sound of PBR’s being cracked echoed through out the mountains. The venue had a variety of big airs, technical lines and fast turns. The judges were scoring the athletes on five criteria: line, fluidity, technique, control and aggressiveness.

There were several athletes that let the judges know they were here to get things done. Alta’s favorite pole less skier, Hayden Price, threw out a nose-butter three off of an air to woo the judges with a less than traditional approach. While guys like Mathieu Gagnon-Theriault, of Whistler, just laid out a run filled with big smooth airs and a super aggressive approach. Brett Phelps from Ski Texas did what the judges called a “straight-line to ass-whoopin!” with his ballsy straight line to one-legged hurrah that ended when he was eaten up by a gnarly traverse across the course. Fortunately, everybody skied away from the first day and nobody had to be carted off the hill in a burrito.

Day two was the second round of qualifiers and it was an awesome day for competition. Mother nature sprinkled about six inches over the Wasatch that morning. The wind was still ripping across the top of the venue so the start was pushed back one hour. As soon as the time rolled around the sunshine came out and the place lit up for another bluebird day of gnarly skiing. The athletes couldn’t have asked for better conditions than a sunny day with fresh snow. After the second day the playing field for both men and women were cut in half with the higher scoring skiers preparing to ski another day on Silver Fox.

The third day was the first day of the World Tour where certain athletes from the tour were pre qualified. It was the first day that all the big dogs came out of their cages. More clouds and windy weather put everyone on hold for about an hour or so at the top of Silver Fox, but as soon as the sun cleared the women were ready to unleash their vengeance directly under the tram for all to see. This was truly an extraordinary showcase of female competition. The ladies were huckin’ big airs right from the start of their runs. Jacyln Passo of Squalywood, California sent the “frenchie” air at the tram tower and stomped it for all to witness her power. In the men’s corner there were again some ridiculous rag doll wrecks down the north chute. Once again the lower scoring half of skiers were eliminated for the final day of skiing at the premier venue in the Freeskiing competition––North Baldy!

North Baldy is known for its long vertical, several cliff bands, and the Hollywood style amphitheater at the bottom of the venue, where people either make or break themselves. The cat drivers at Snowbird had built stadium seating for the fans to watch the event. By 9:30 a.m. the stands were packed with people, Pabst, grills and bottle rockets. It was a rowdy group of people ready to get sunburned and watch some badass skiers. The level of competition was ridiculous and the caliber of skiing blew my mind. Seeing one of MSI’s own ninjas Dex Mills launch a sixty-foot cliff at mach speed into hard pack was insane! The women’s runs were possibly the best to date. Jaclyn Passo hit a huge double stager super clean at the bottom of the venue going bigger than some of the guys who hit it. That run earned her both the coveted Sickbird belt buckle and first place in the women’s division. Alta’s own Dylan Crossman took the men’s title as he just manhandled the course with no hesitation. Overall the event was a stellar display of the finest skiing around. The skiers will move on to another venue in another state as the rest of us stick around Utah and wait to see who will be sending it again next year.