Words: Ryan Hollow
Photos: Lonnie Ball
Some of skiing’s strongest athletes competed in the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier at Moonlight Basin this past weekend. The results are in and the secret is out of the bag on Montana’s Big Sky style of skiing. Open spaces and smiling faces welcomed an amazing field of talent in a winner take all of big mountain contest skiing. The Headwaters Bowl seems tailor-made for a FWT event, with 1,500-foot gullies running straight down from the north face of 11,112 foot Lone Pea. Rows of cliffs and couloirs pepper the chosen runs. “It (Moonlight Basin) is big mountain skiing,” said event host Paul Herberger.
Friday’s qualifier included 70 men and 30 women all vying for only five and three spots, respectively. The runs Jack Creek, Rock Creek, and Class 4 showcase some of the rowdiest lift-served terrain in North America. The ladies started off strong, all gunning for the coveted top three spots. Natalie Segal of Australia had a electrfying run through Hell’s Half Acre, a double-drop cliff line she made all her own. The boys had fun, too, as Patty Baskins of Vail led the field with a explosive lines while sending multiple cliff airs along the way. Ben Oglivie of Fernie, B.C., opted for a more technical line and ended strong with a 40-foot cliff launch into the bowl. Kyle Taylor took a high-speed run through Class 4, carving aggressively and making 45-50 degree steeps look easy. Local ski guide Mark Davidson received a notable mention for his run, a prize of sorts to stand out amongst all that amazing talent.
Saturday’s final fell on a perfect bluebird day and as the sun warmed onlookers, it was the contestants who really turned up the heat. Ranked 22nd going into Saturday, Mark Davidson aced the top portion of Three Forks and chose a triple drop cliff jump near the end. Kyle Taylor of Whitefish, Montana, prevailed in the men’s division, carving his way to first. Randy Evans of Bridger Bowl took fifth place and the coveted ‘Sickbird’ award for his acrobatic ski flips and carving prowess. Natalie Segal held her own, taking first place, a big contender heading into the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour Championships at Kirkwood, California, April 4-9.