Big air at Far West
Squaw Valley USA – A mixture of bad weather and big air, bumps and blue skies marked last weekend’s Far West freestyle events at Squaw Valley USA. But the variable conditions didn’t restrain numerous competitors from posting career bests.
Jesse Jenison, a member of the U.S. Development Team skiing for Squaw Valley USA, scored an impressive 26.74 to beat Heavenly’s Ryan Hickey by two percentage points. Former U.S. Freestyle Ski team Curtis Tischler, who has been assisting as a coach for the Squaw Valley team, took third place with a 26.45. Scott Fitzmorris, also of Squaw Valley, took fourth. Greg Lindsey of Alpine Meadows had his best career score with a 24.75 rounding out the top five while Matt Matuskowitz, also skiing for Alpine Meadows, was just a few points behind teammate Lindsey and ended up in sixth place.
The women’s mogul bash also had a competitive field as Shelly Robertson of the U.S. Freestyle Team demonstrated why she’s on the national team as she won the event with a 25.13. Sierra-at-Tahoe’s Amber Ramos, the precocious South Shore athlete skiing in the J3 division, was second while Squaw Valley skier Jessica Davis was third.
The weekend also saw the introduction of a new event for Far West freestyle competition – terrain park aerials. Held Saturday, the success of this inaugural event, not to mention the amplitude, certainly had an impact on Sunday’s mogul event. While the fact that Saturday’s event influenced the moguls wasn’t a surprise, what was surprising was the age of the top competitors in the terrain park aerials.
The top three aerialists Saturday were all J3 competitors (ages 13 to 14). Brent Abrams, formerly of the Heavenly Freestyle team but now training independently, won the event with a score of 17.78. Squaw Valley’s Tim Dutton and Jordan Basile came in second and third, respectively. Beck Jensen, a J2, was fourth.
The aerial event consisted of three table tops with each skier taking two runs. The score for each run – the average of five judges’ opinions, was combined for the final point tally. The cleanest takeoffs and landings generally garnered the highest scores, as jump difficulty was not taken into as much consideration – at least for the first event. Inverted jumps were not standard fare, as Far West skiers must qualify for inverted air at one of several different camps or be certified by a coach.
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Several Truckee-Tahoe skiers will vie for Olympic medals next month.