Freeskiing to the extreme
Squaw Valley’s Jamie Burge and Adrien Coirier of Les Arcs, France, came out on top of a stacked international field during the inaugural Subaru Squaw Valley USA Freeskiing Open from Thursday through Saturday.
The event, an official stop on the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series, took place in mild conditions in the Enchanted Forest and Cornice II areas, where more than three feet of new snow covered the rocky, cliff-strewn terrain.
Sitting in first position going into the final morning’s run, freeskiing legend and ski movie regular Burge solidified her lead on the women’s field with a smooth and aggressive first run, which included a 20-foot cliff drop. Burge went into her second run six points ahead of Jess McMillan of Jackson Hole, Wyo.
The remaining top six women who advanced to the finals were Jess McMillan, Katharine Lange, Kate Olson, Emily Turner and Molly Baker. They remained in that finish order after the super-finals.
“I love Squaw Valley, I ski here everyday,” Burge said. “I still compete because competitions are great, they really make you push yourself. It forces you to step it up and be competitive and its fun. You get to see everybody. I’m so honored to represent Squaw today and win this!”
After Thursday’s qualifier round, only 8.6 points separated all 32 men who advanced, creating a competitive final round.
First-run stand-outs included Ben Wheeler’s fast and smooth run, which incorporated a 15-foot cliff drop to a straight line; Kevin O’Meara’s gigantic, perfectly executed double drop off the top section of the venue, which won him a Sickbird nomination; Craig Garbiel’s aggressive airs and gap-jump; and Adrien Coirier’s well-executed run that catapulted him into first place going into the super-finals.
The super-finals on Friday began with Tahoe locals Daron Rahlves and Gunner Newquist putting on a spectacle by skiing together in unison, straight-lining the entire top portion of the venue and airing a 25-foot cliff near the bottom.
In the super-finals, nine of the 16 men who advanced were nominated for the Sickbird award for their antics.
Coirier, who was just over two points ahead of O’Meara going into the finals, skied fast and nailed a huge straight-line with two 20-foot cliffs throughout the middle of the venue to win the competition by nearly 10 points. Coirier now leads the overall points standings for the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series.
“I have been working so hard for this,” Coirier said. “I was running out of money before the winter because I spent all my money in the summer training for this. Today the skiing was just like my mountains in France; it was really good snow and the line I did was exactly what I like to ski. It was perfect and I’m so happy to have won another event.”
O’Meara, a Squaw local, won the Tobias Lee Memorial Sickbird buckle award for the most spirited competition run.
The Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series continues in three weeks at the 10th Anniversary of the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird, Utah. Additional stops to the U.S. Freeskiing Series, which has grown from four stops to five in 2007, include the Subaru Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open at Jackson Hole, Wyo., and the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood.