Top telemark skiers to compete at Alpine Meadows
After ripping through Grand Targhee earlier this month, the nationandamp;#8217;s top free-heelers are set to resume battle at Alpine Meadows on the second stop of the Mountain Hardwear Big Mountain Telemark Open from Friday through Sunday.Put on by Tough Guy Productions out of Kings Beach, the event brings back a comprehensive telemark points series for the first time in almost 10 years. The series kicked off with an impressive display at Grand Targhee Resort in Wyoming on Feb. 11. Alpine Meadows falls next on the schedule, followed by another stop at Crested Butte, Colo., from March 17-19 and the invite-only finale at Valdez, Alaska, from April 1-10, which is reserved for the top three men and women from the points series.
With some of the most skilled telemark skiers both locally and from out of state competing, the Alpine Meadows stop is sure to entertain, said Tough Guy Productions Owner Stephane Riendeau, who marveled at the caliber of skiing at Grand Targhee. andamp;#8220;The sport is still growing. We get bigger numbers every year, and the new generation (of tele skiers) at Targhee totally raised the bar,andamp;#8221; said Riendeau, describing technical lines and 40- to 60-foot cliffs that the athletes tackled with style. andamp;#8220;The level of skiing was amazing.andamp;#8221;Tahoe athletes helped push the envelope on the opening stop, as 12-year-old Bennett Drummond of Truckee captured the win with his aggressive line selection in the Junior Men’s category, while Kami Abi-Nader, a freshman at North Tahoe High School, showed fluidity and control to take first place in the Junior Women’s competition.Then there was Ty Mayberry of South Lake Tahoe, who placed fifth in the Men’s class and scored the andamp;#8220;Sickbirdandamp;#8221; award for landing two backflips, as well as Nina Porcelli-Fenn of Squaw Valley, who took third in the Women’s class. Lizet Christiansen of Tahoe City placed sixth among women. They’re all expected to compete at Alpine Meadows this weekend, said Riendeau, adding that the North Shore resort is an ideal playground for tele skiers due to its steep pitches accessible by traversing. andamp;#8220;Each state kind of has its niche (of telemark skiers), and in the Sierra they’re at Alpine Meadows more than any other mountain,andamp;#8221; Riendeau said. andamp;#8220;So I think that’s why (the event) is so welcome there.andamp;#8221;The big-mountain telemark competition is not new to Alpine Meadows, as the resort hosted the contest the past three years. But this marks the first year it’s part of an ongoing points series, Riendeau said. About 60 tele skiers took part in the Grand Targhee stop, and Riendeau expects between 60 and 80 to compete at Alpine andamp;#8212; from the top dogs of the sport to capable locals looking to record a podium finish. Winners of the men’s and women’s classes each receive $1,000, while second place is awarded $500 and third place $250. Podium finishers also receive products from the event sponsors.
The event begins Friday with a clinic in which competitors ski with the judges to inspect the venue and learn how lines will be judged. The Keyhole Classic on Saturday marks Day 1 of the competition (pushed back a day due to weather). Held on technical terrain starting at the top of Keyhole, the elimination round follows the standard criteria for big-mountain contests, where competitors are judged on line, control, fluidity, technique and aggressiveness. The top 10 in each category advance to the Big Mountain Final and Super Final on Sunday as the venue moves to the rocky steeps of The Buttress andamp;#8212; weather and conditions permitting. Before the big-mountain antics begin Sunday morning, however, competitors will take part in The Uphill/Downhill Avy Savvy Race. They start at the main lodge and begin skinning en masse to the Summit gate, where they race down to the simulated avalanche zone and begin a transceiver search for two buried andamp;#8220;victims.andamp;#8221; The first male and female competitors to locate a buried transceiver win, and any telemark competitor who finishes in the top three may use it as his or her qualification for the finals.The High Yellow Gully will serve as an alternate venue in case The Buttress is deemed unsafe by the judges, said Riendeau.For more information, including potential schedule changes due to the weather, go to http://www.toughguyproductions.com.