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Sat Feb 04, 2006 9:30 am

Snowbird, Utah (Ski Press)-Keith Carlsen of Mountain Sports International took this shot of Julian Carr soaring Superman style off a Snowbird cliff at the 2006 Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals. With this and Jamie Pierre’s 225-foot cliff jump, freeskiing has become an independent space program. According to Carlsen, today’s Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals qualifier event sent 106 competitors down Tower Three Chutes at Utah’s Snowbird Ski Resort. Between whiteouts, high winds, and extensive road and lift closures, competitors charged down the steep, technical course, hoping to advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals.



Snowbird locals dominated the women’s field, taking the top seven spots, with Suzanne Graham emerging as the winner. “It was my first big mountain competition ever,” said Graham. “I can’t believe I won.” Alaina Huestis took second and Molly Baker third.



In men’s competition, Griffin Post of Sun Valley, ID, came in third, Tres Zaglool of Snowbird was second, while Kevin O’Meara of Squaw Valley, CA, claimed the victory. “All day I was just hoping that I qualified,” said O’Meara. “I had never seen the course before my run, so I was lucky to watch a few Snowbird locals compete. I just went where they skied, went a little bigger, and it all came out really well.”



Fifteen inches of new snow overnight caused a 400-foot-wide, eight-foot-deep avalanche that blocked access to Snowbird from down the canyon. Event crews began qualifier runs with the 35 competitors who had stayed overnight at the resort, hoping the roads would open in time for the remainder of the field to compete.



No one was able to inspect the course since those coming up the canyon would have no time for inspection. All competitors were skiing blind, hoping to find clear landings and a way out of technical rock sections and 20- to 50-foot cliff drops—all while still trying to impress the judges.



High winds on Hidden Peak caused periodic closures of the Snowbird Tram and Little Cloud lift, the only two lifts that accessed the course. However, excitement was high and competitors volunteered to hike 45 minutes up Regulator Bowl to compete.



By mid-afternoon, winds calmed enough to allow lifts to run, and the fog that had filled the bowl most of the day lifted to reveal 60 competitors on the ridge ready to run. In the end, MSI pulled off the impossible, finishing the last competitor just before the resort closed at 4:00 pm.



Competition continues tomorrow, with returning champions Ben Wheeler of Snowbird, Kit DesLauriers of Jackson, WY, and 55 other pre-qualified athletes going head-to-head with today’s qualifiers in the semi-finals. FOMO: www.usfreeskiing.com
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Sat Feb 04, 2006 11:37 am

wow thats huge, that coverage looks a little thin, must be too steep to stick
SkiCop
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Sun Feb 05, 2006 12:33 am

I did that today at Cat. OK maybe not on purpose.................
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Tue Aug 15, 2006 4:42 pm

it WAS icy though......
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