Straight to the top
Nobody told Tim Dutton there was a learning curve in big-mountain skiing competition. So he skipped right past that part.
Dutton, a Squaw Valley USA lifer and former aerialist as a teen, established this past Sunday that he’s more than capable of competing with the big boys of the freeskiing world ” despite being as green as they come in the discipline.
In just his second-ever big-mountain contest, the 22-year-old posted the high score on consecutive days en route to winning the Subaru World Freeskiing Championships at Alyeska Resort in Alaska. The men’s field was 29 skiers deep, and loaded with competitive experience.
The win kept Dutton’s undefeated record intact, as he also captured victory in his first-ever big-mountain competition, the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood the weekend of March 21.
“I really didn’t even want to do it,” Dutton said about the Kirkwood stop of the Freeskiing World Tour. “One of my buddies totally talked me into it.”
Because Dutton fought fires last summer in the woods of Oregon, the Porters Tahoe-sponsored skier missed his window of opportunity to register for the Freeskiing World Tour. But when he received an e-mail from a friend offering him her roommate’s spot in the Kirkwood event, all it took was a little prodding.
The rocky venue, known as The Cirque, contributed to his decision.
“It was held on The Cirque, and I’ve wanted to ski The Cirque since I was a kid,” Dutton said. “It’s kind of like Tram Face at Squaw in that you’re not able to ski it (legally). So I was stoked to ski that.”
The normally closed section of the mountain did not disappoint, Dutton said. Nor did the gnarly lines on the slopes of Alyeska, which received 15 inches of new snow on the first day of competition, postponing the contest a day.
“There was pow for days,” Dutton said, describing the Alyeska terrain as steep and fast “with lots of cool drops.”
Day 1 of the invite-only contest was held on The Knuckles, a 1,000-vertical-foot run off Alyeska’s North Face, according to a Freeskiing World Tour release. Dutton, who worked as many features as he could on his run, took the lead ahead of Lars Chickering-Ayers, Luke Nelson and Cliff Bennett.
The contest moved to the top of The Headwall for Day 2.
After scouting out the mountain while boot-packing to the top, Dutton impressed the judges with an aggressive line in which he aired over rocks and skied fast and confidently through exposed terrain ” scoured by an avalanche that Alyeska Ski Patrol set off that morning.
“My whole thing was trying to out-jump everybody, and just skiing fast and strong,” said Dutton, adding that his biggest cliff-drop was in the 25- to 30-foot range, which is relatively small compared to some of the cliffs he’s dropped at Squaw. “… I’ve gotten myself into sketchier situations than that, for sure.”
Again his run impressed the four judges, who awarded him the top spot ahead of Chickering-Ayers, Julien Lopez (the overall Freeskiing World Tour champ), Nelson and Bennett.
Now with two big-mountain contest wins under his belt in as many attempts, Dutton said he’ll likely compete in more Freeskiing World Tour stops next season.
Asked if he’s discovered his niche in skiing, Dutton replied with a humble answer.
“Yeah, I guess you could say that. I just have so much fun doing it, and I think that’s why I’ve done well. I tell my friends that the best skier out there is the one with the biggest smile on his face.”
Tim Dutton is one of 26 invited skiers who will compete at Sugar Bowl Saturday in TRAINS, a park contest and fundraiser being put on by the High Fives Nonprofit Foundation.