Freeskiing World Tour Stop #3 at Revelstoke, B.C. event recap
Skier: Jacqui Edgerly
Black Diamond recently became the official ski sponsor of the 2011 Freeskiing World Tour—something that we're super excited about. So when the tour landed in Canada for stop #3—after the first two stops in South America this summer—we sent up a support crew of BD employees and a talented ski team fresh off several strong finishes in Chile and Argentina.
Revelstoke, British Columbia is nestled between the legendary Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges; the resort boasts North America's biggest vertical drop with 5620 feet of quad-burning goodness. It's also well known for intense weather, deep snow, frequent road closures and impenetrable fog banks descending on the mountain and valley below. And that's exactly what happened for the first few days of the competition.
Using a weather delay right off the bat, the judges and organizers managed to get through qualifiers over the course of two days by sneaking in competitors' runs during the tiniest weather windows. The upside was that the snow was deep, soft and stompable. BD athlete Jake Sakson attempted to qualify on his tele gear but took a fall and did not make the cut. Unfortunately this would prove to be a theme for the BD team...
Saturday, January 8 started off clear and extremely cold in the valley. By contrast, the upper peak—including the Day 1 venue—was socked in and snowing hard, so yet another weather day was used and competition was suspended. This was actually a huge advantage for the competitors, as the venue remained closed to the public while nearly a foot of fresh piled onto the hill.
Skier: Johnny Collinson
Sunday was go-time. Clear skies, fresh snow and an extremely technical venue resulted in a mind-blowing show of what is possible—and not—on a pair of skis. Competitors had nearly a half-mile of ridgeline from which to pick their line. It was roughly a two-stage run, with technical cliff lines up top, a wide flat powder field for recovery and then steep, cliff-pocketed trees to the finish. Black Diamond athletes who were prequalified for Day 1 included Jacqui Edgerly, Angel Collinson, Johnny Collinson, Mark Welgos and Drew Stoecklein.
The women ran first, with Angel Collinson defending her overall 2010 Freeskiing World Tour Title. Angel crashed on an air in the upper section of the course, but flashed the rest of her line. She did not make the cut to the finals day. Jacqui Edgerly greased a technical line full of airs, straightlines and powerful skiing to land in second place going into the finals on Monday.
Skier: Angel Collinson
On the men's side, Johnny Collinson suffered the same fate as his sister Angel with a crash after a monster backflip attempt. Never one to give up, this up-and-coming ripper made short work of the rest of the course with plenty of style, throwing in 360's and shifty airs at every opportunity. Mark Welgos used his power and experience to turn in a great run, but just missed the cut for finals day. Finally, Drew Stoecklein stomped a huge triple-drop right off the top of the venue to secure a spot in the finals.
During all of this, the new Black Diamond Backflip Grill opened its tent "doors" for the first time at the base of the venue. Several BD employees and friends-of-BD grilled burgers, sausages, hot dogs and veggie burgers for a stoked-out crew of 100-plus competitors and volunteers. The Backflip Grill will be a regular fixture at the remaining FWT stops this year.
Everyone who made it to Monday's finals was a winner in one respect: they all got to go heli-skiing. Revelstoke Mountain Resort's patrol was kind enough to control a raw, steep backcountry area called Mac Face just outside the resort boundaries. It required a heli-drop to access 1100' of steeps, cliffs and no-fall-zone skiing. Unfortunately on the morning of competition, a huge avalanche ripped out during control work, turning the competitors' expectations of their run from hero powder to survival turns on avalanche bed surface and debris piles.
The last Black Diamond athlete able to compete, Jacqui Edgerly, skied an aggressive and exposed line on the upper section of the course. Like many other competitors that day, as soon as she saw that she was clear of the rocks and trees, she punched it onto the seemingly safe apron only to explode at speed after hitting the rock-hard avalanche bed surface. Jacqui suffered some injuries but we expect to see her back on the competition circuit in no time. Congrats to the winners, Leah Evans and Lars Chickering Ayers!
Next stop: see you in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for the qualifier event.