From the Big Mountain Telemark Open — Alta, Wyo. (Feb. 14) — The Big Mountain Telemark Open held at Grand Targhee Resort this past weekend was the first time in over 10 years that a telemark competition tour had been available. And judging from the amount of tele skiers that participated in this weekend's competition, there is a significant youth movement in the sport.
Over 60 competitors showcased their best skills on a world-class venue at Grand Targhee Resort for the first stop of the Tough Guy Productions Big Mountain Telemark Open.
A qualifier for the finals in Valdez, and a $1000 first prize purse, raised the level of competition to heights that blew the judges away.
"I walked away completely overwhelmed by the line selection and the freestyle tricks that were incorporated consistently throughout the competition," said judge Eric Henderson. "When telemark competitions began you saw incredible athleticism in the sport, but this competition showed that telemark skiers are following the lead of alpine and combining park skills with technical lines and natural features."
The Junior Men's category was swept by 12-year-old Bennett Drummond who traveled from California with his family for the competition. His aggressive line selection and continuous telemark turns through challenging terrain earned him top place in his category and a top 20 placement among the entire men's field.
Kami Abi-Nader chose terrain appropriate to her ability and impressed the judges with her fluidity and control to take first place in the Junior Women's competition.
"Typically the Juniors are relegated to less technical venues in big mountain competitions," said Henderson. "That these kids had access to the same steep, varied, technical terrain of the older competitors spoke volumes about the their natural ability."
Located among the infamous cliff bands on Peaked Mountain, the venue was thought by many to be one of the best.
"Reliable, Bobcat and the other areas on Peaked are filled with flutes, a range of cliff sizes, small trees, tight chutes and steep pitches that create a perfect venue for competitions that require route finding and technical skiing," said Andy Williams, special events manager, Grand Targhee Resort. "It's also visible from our beginner run on Fred's Mountain, creating an exciting event for spectators and great visibility for judges."
The women's category featured ladies with consistent, fluid, technical skiing that often surpassed the same skills among the men.
Lucy Sackbauer placed first among the women thanks to her line selection, fluidity and technical skiing.
"Lucy chose a line that included fluted terrain and small trees – an area where we saw both men and women flounder a bit – and showed amazing control and grace in her skiing," said Henderson. "She was well prepared and knew exactly where she was, allowing her to ski efficiently and with flow."
It was the Men's category that pushed the envelope on the second day of competition, showing amazing athleticism with full backflips off of the top of the venue, and front flips clearing double cliff bands.
Ty Dayberry scored the "Sickbird" award after landing two backflips off of the top of the venue.
First place finisher Paul Kimbrough skied a technical, aggressive line with air, speed and control to take the top position.