From Tailgate Alaska — Valdez, AK (Feb. 18) — The World Extreme Skiing Championships (WESC), skiing’s legendary big mountain competition, is returning to Valdez from March 25 to April 3, 2011 as part of Tailgate Alaska, the freeride festival for snowboarders and skiers. After a ten-year hiatus, the WESC will celebrate its 20th anniversary and challenge the world’s best skiers on the steep, exposed faces of the Chugach Mountains.
Created in 1991, the WESC played an integral role in the growth of big mountain skiing and helped to launch the careers of legends like Doug Coombs, Dean Cummings, Shane McConkey and Chris Davenport.
“Winning the World Extreme Skiing Championships in ’96 was one of the pivotal moments of my career,” says Davenport. “The WESC played an important role in the growth of our sport, and I’m glad it’s being resurrected in the place where it all began for so many of us — Valdez.”
“When we organized the first WESC, the Chugach were largely unexplored by skiers, and we wanted to hold a ski event that would showcase the huge mountains, terrain and incredible snow the area has to offer,” says Karen McCune-Stewart, one of the WESC’s original founders. “The WESC laid the foundation for big mountain ski competition and I’m thrilled to see it return to Valdez.”
“I’m expecting it to be a freestyle barrage on the biggest mountain terrain – unlike anything ever witnessed,” adds Mark Sullivan, founder of Tailgate Alaska.
The WESC returns to Valdez as part of the World Freeriding Championships held during Tailgate Alaska, an annual festival created in 2007 that provides a temporary community for a global group of hardcore riders who love to ride challenging mountains in optimal conditions. Beginning as a snowboard event limited to 500 participants, Tailgate Alaska 2011 will run from March 25 to April 11, offering shelter, entertainment, mountain education, and access to 1.6 million acres of deep, untouched snow for snowboarders, skiers and telemarkers. In 2010, snowboarding’s original world extreme championships, the King of the Hill competition, was resurrected with Alaska snowboarding pioneer Nick Perata.
While the exact competition format for WESC has yet to be determined, Sean Pettit and Wiley Miller have signed on as athlete spokespersons, inviting 40 of the world’s most elite skiers to compete. American Ted Davenport and Norwegian Ane Enderud gained entry with wins at the World Heli Challenge in New Zealand in July 2010.