storm hits kirkwood
North American Freeskiing Championships – Kirkwood California, 2006
Words by Holly Walker. Photos by Re Wikstrom & Holly Walker.
With the North American Freeskiing Championships in its 10th year, the Kirkwood qualifier went off like clockwork on the "Lookout Vista" venue. Never before have conditions been so filled in due to a ridiculously stormy March. Almost 100 competitors explored new terrain features with past year's ones looking like moguls.
The winds were blowing hard, blinding the female competitors first few turns out of the start. Alaina Huestis of Snowbird dropped in first, charging a fast and fluid line. But only after four more female competitors, the bar was set high by none other than veteran competitor Kirsty Exner. After stomping her top airs and following up with a long straightline – Kirsty made big turns to the finish and first place.
The snowboard women and men followed, with both Brandon Reid of Vail and Shannon Yates of Snowbird taking first in their categories. Kirkwood is the only skiing competition with snowboarders, though a separate division.
The wind died down and the sun came out for the men who ran last. The Jackson competition's Sick Bird Award winner, Justus Meyer, skied solid and threw a front flip. Several other competitors threw backflips – including local boys OJ Abben and Zaq Rosenbloom. Jackson comp winner Tyson Bolduc skied aggressively, hitting several big airs. But the leader of the day was Telluride Sick Bird Award winner Chris Tatsuno of Brekenridge, CO for going big instead of home.
Shout out goes to local Doug Severn, the only tele guy to qualify to ski his resort's permanent closure "the Cirque." The Stupid Bird Award goes to Jonny Manwaring for sending the biggest spread eagle of the day. I had the chance to ask Jonny how he felt about it over an Amstel Light, "Well Holly, its not so much a trick as it is a calculated tactic, with my legs spread I can spot my landing better."
Unfortunately, Kirkwood local and first time competitor Jacob Daiek took a hard crash and was heli-lifted out. He is back home and recovering from some broken ribs. We hope Jacob a quick recovery!
The men finished early and as the MSI Team packed up the operation, the weather began to roll in. A winter storm watch is in place for the Tahoe area over the next three days. As the competition moves to the 1500ft permanently closed vertical drop called "The Cirque" for Day 1 of the World Tour event, weather will play a big role with visibility being a challenge for both competitors and judges.
The meeting came next, the Amstel Light flowed and a cut was made. 36 men and 9 women joined the World Tour prequalified athletes and registered for their chance to show their stuff on looker's right side of "The Cirque" on Day 1 of this year's last World Tour
competition. As athletes headed to bed, event organizers headed off to celebrate event announcer John "Dak" Williams Birthday. Happy Birthday Dak!!