Janina Kuzma and Dylan Crossman recently won the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at the Kirkwood Mountain Resort in California. Below is the official press release written by Mountain Sports International:
As the wind whistled over the razor-sharp rock spires of Kirkwood’s Cirque, skiers readied their gear and nerves for the fifth stop of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour. This is one of the most-respected steep skiing contests in the world and the venue at Kirkwood Mountain Resort has become notorious due to its steep, technical slopes and because it is permanently closed to the public. This weekend marked the 13th consecutive year of the competition coming to Kirkwood and it was a true spectacle.
Athletes scoping their line – photo: Ben Meester-MSI
The Cirque is a 1,500-vertical-foot wall of rock which resembles some of Alaska’s most aesthetic peaks. It has ski lines that get upwards of 60-degrees in slope angle which means that if you could somehow stand still on it, your extended elbow would touch the mountain.
As the competition got going last Thursday, Kirkwood received two feet of powder. Event organizers saved the most challenging section of the Cirque for Sunday’s final which guaranteed perfect conditions.
Men’s Winner: Aaron Schmidt, Dylan Crossman and Marc Welgos – photo: Ben Meester-MSI
Men’s winner, Dylan Crossman from Mad River Glen, Vermont attacked the Cirque with a smooth style and creative line choice. Combining guts with finesse, he threw a 360 spin in the middle of his run.
”After having stormy weather on day 1, I woke up in the morning and it was blue bird,” said Crossman.”I knew I had to make a impressive and smooth run to make my way up from the third position to the first.”
Behind him, in second, was Aaron Schmidt of Fernie, British columbia, who also skied with the aggression and fluidity that the judges love to see. In third, was Marc Welgos of Aspen, Colorado, who skied an impressive and technical line.
Nick Greener – photo: Ben Meester-MSI
Bad weather moved in during the final heats and women’s winner Janina Kuzma from Treble Cone, New Zealand, considered altering her gameplan.
“I was going to change my line but I stuck with my guns, stayed on my feet and I’m really happy,” said Janina. She did an airplane-turn into a tight choke in one of the steepest sections of the Cirque called the ”Hidden Chute”. Her aggressiveness was further rewarded with the contest’s Backcountry.com Sickbird Award which honors the skier who most represents the sport’s heart and soul while ”going big”. This is one of the few times a female has won the coveted trophy.
Janina Kuzma - photo: Julie Weinberger
Behind Kuzma, going home with the second place, was Angel Collinson, of Snowbird, Utah, a rookie on the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour and in third place was Crystal-Rose Lee, of Whistler, British Columbia.
Janina Kuzma one of the only women who ever won The Backcountry.com Sickbird Award - photo: Ben Meester-MSI
The Freeskiing World Tour also presents The North Face Young Gun Award to a young competitor who shows promise and performs well. This weekend’s winner was Caleb Brown from Fernie, British Columbia, who qualified in 2nd position and finished 5th in the final.
Hundreds of spectators gathered at the bottom of the natural amphitheater which afforded awesome views of the incredible skiing taking place up above. People arrived on skis or by snowcat and there was an air of festival. Until the weather moved in at the end, it was a massive California sun picnic. Between heats, long time tour competitor Ted Davenport thrilled the crowd by ski-parasailing from the peak and sliding to a stop in the finish area.