By Jim Harris
The Red Bull Cold Rush, a freeride competition in Silverton, Colo., went off yesterday—the first day of the three day event. With each day emphasizing a different aspect of freeskiing, Monday’s Day 1 was the “Big Mountain Day.”
Staged in an alpine cirque of Silverton Mountain, craggy peaks rise 2,000 feet above the inflatable finish line arch. At first glance, the shady cirque looked smaller than I'd expected, in an "Oh, I could do that" sort of way. Then I notice a spec of motion and the whole treeless scene jumped into perspective as a tiny video crew crept across a knob midway up. Wow, yeah, this place is big. And rocky. And steep.
At the bottom, athletes huddled in pairs and posses, sharing binoculars and guessed about what lines looked like from above. Soon they buzzed up as a pair of A-Stars flew laps to the top. Now, with their little silhouettes moving across knifey ridges, the lines looked even more intimidating. The headwall featured a pair of dark peaks and between them a few snowy chutes fell from corniced saddles. Between the chutes lay acres of unforgiving terrain. It was cliffy, peppered with half-buried outcrops, and without easy landmarks. The challenge for the competitors would be to spice it up with improbable lines down this high-consequence no man's land. Logan Pehota, 16, put it this way: "Everybody's super nice and chill here but at the same time I'm competing with them and I want to do something different."
It's hard to describe specific lines because dry facts like that Dave Treadway skied into a closeout line with a 50-foot air don't begin to describe the difficulty of that route. He started down something called Gnar Couloir but soon sped into even more complex terrain. Dave smoothly connected one hanging snowfield to the next before finding his way into a tight chute too ridiculous to have a name. The chute ended in a wide cliff band with zero easy ways down. Dave punched it down the line, sent the cliff, and then pointed it down the apron. Just wait for the video. It's unreal.
Talking with him over dinner, Dave admitted that it was his first run in Colorado. Not just his first run of this trip, but first run ever. And he crushed it. "I knew I wanted to ski that line but I was going to do it as my second line,” Treadway says. “It was getting cloudy and I realized I might not get a second chance." So he went for it and it paid off during the judging tonight.
One of the things that makes this event legit is that it's athlete judged. Red Bull films the skiing from a half-dozen angles, then speed-edits the footage into a shredumentary for after-dinner judging. Multi-vantage coverage led to a video edit that felt honest. It showed every line skied from top to bottom, with no slow-mo or artsy editing. And that's pretty cool because it gives the 19 contestant/judges fair representation and drives home the idea that Cold Rush is foremost about amazing skiing.
Hoots and clapping filled the narrow basement theater in the Silverton's historic Grand Imperial Hotel. The stoke level was high throughout the replay but the day's first and last skiers, Suzanne Graham and Dave Treadway, got full-on ovations. And so it was no to surprise to anyone that, once the votes were tallied, Suzanne and Dave were in the lead.
Stay tuned to powder.com for further updates from Silverton.