Squaw’s Jackie Paaso wins Freeride World Tour stop in Chamonix
CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC, FRANCE — Squaw Valley big-mountain skier Jackie Paaso impressed judges and spectators alike by executing one of the most daring moves in the second stop of the Swatch Freeride World Tour on the famed steeps of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France, this past Saturday.
Showing masterful control on the takeoff before stomped the landing, Paaso finished her run with solid technique to earn a score of 80.50 and first place in the women’s ski division.
“I was debating whether or not I should choose to hit such a large cliff at this event but was advised by some of the male skiers that I could be successful with it,” Paaso said. “Fortunately, it worked out perfectly and I am so excited to have won the competition. It’s a great way to start the season.”
Following Paaso in second place, Matilda Rapaport of Sweden had a creative line using many terrain features with little hesitation. Rapaport earned a score of 75.00. Lorraine Huber of Austria was the first woman to ski and went huge with her airs to earn third place with a score of 68.00.
Mont Blanc created a picturesque background for the competition at La Flégère ski area on the Aiguille Pourrie face.
Aiguille Pourrie is a steep and playful venue that provided the field of 69 skiers and snowboarders ample opportunity to showcase both their big-mountain and freestyle skills. Sunny conditions and fresh powder created great conditions for riding, but wind the evening before the event made the top half of the slope extra challenging.
“Today was a bit tough for everybody because the face got some wind overnight. That’s why we saw a lot of crashes. It made it a bit easier for the judging but a lot tougher for the riders,” said head judge Hugo Harrisson. “But we saw a lot of good skiing and lines. Freestyle made the difference to the judges … Jackie Paaso had an air just as big as the guys. Such great charging from the girls.”
The competition began with the men’s snowboard division. Swiss rider Emilien Badoux chose a creative line that included a challenging triple cliff drop in the steep middle section of the venue. His impressive run earned Badoux first place and a score of 81.00. Jamie Rizzuto of Canada came in second place with a score of 79.25. Chamonix local Christophe Charlet earned a score of 78.25 for third.
Squaw Valley snowboarder Sammy Luebke, who won the first stop of the tour the week prior, finished fifth, while Brian Bozack of Sugar Bowl was 10th and Ralph Backstrom of Squaw Valley 14th.
In the men’s ski category, it became evident Loïc Collomb-Patton is a true contender for the 2014 FWT Championship. Collomb-Patton, a new rider on the tour, repeated his victory at the first stop in Courmayeur by securing the top score of 83.50. His run was hard-charging and technical. He wowed the crowd and judges with an enormous left side 360 off a consequential cliff and perfectly executed the landing.
Garrett Altmann of the United States chose a difficult line featuring a gigantic double cliff drop in extremely technical terrain. The judges awarded Altmann a score of 81.50 for second. Rounding out the podium, Mickael Bimboes of France had a solid run with many features, including a steep straight-line through a chute heading right into another air feature to receive a third-place scored of 77.75.
Squaw Valley skiers Sean Collin and Conor Pelton finished 18th and 19th, respectively.
In women’s snowboarding, Shannan Yates of the United States swiftly won her division with a strong and smooth run down the fall line. Yates’ nice inclusion of technical features earned her a winning score of 70.00.
In second place, Amber Schuecker of Australia landed several airs with clean heal-side turns throughout her run, earning her a score of 66.50. Swiss rider Estelle Balet scored a 64.25 for third.
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As seniors from North Tahoe collected diplomas this week, a group of Lakers continued another local tradition — capturing first place at the boys’ regional golf championship.