Hinkley, Gillen Score Wins at Taos’ FWT Qualifier

<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=16302253" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

From the Salomon New Mexico Extreme Freeriding Championships — Under classic New Mexican blue skies, the 2011 edition of the Salomon New Mexico Extreme Freeriding Championships wrapped up on Saturday. The finals, held on the Kachina venue, featured some of the best skiing and riding that this event—now in its eight year—has seen. When the day wrapped up, Chris Hinkley and Katie Gillen had earned victory on the rocky, technical venue.

The final day on Kachina unfolded with at least 15 male skiers in the chase for the podium, as scores from the West Basin venue were extremely tight. For the women, the situation was much the same. Seven athletes all had a good shot at taking the win, including Freeride World Tour skiers Jackie Passo (3rd after round one) and Angel Collinson (2nd after round one).

In the end, it was local Katie Gillen who rode the momentum from her top score on day one to post the highest score again on Kachina and take the win ahead of Angle Collinson (2nd) and Andrea Krejci (3rd). "I can't believe I won," said Gillen, who counts Dynastar, Rossignol and Chocolate Extreme among her sponsors. "I didn't expect to win and it was amazing competing with these women. Now people are talking about the Freeride World Tour, and it doesn't seem real to me."

Gillen, who skied both venues with an aggressive fluidity, seems like a natural for the World Tour. Attractive and intelligent (she's planning on attending law school in the fall), Gillen could easily become skiing's next poster girl. Unless, of course, she decides to hit the books. Tough decisions await this Taos athlete.

For the men, as Resolution Skis athlete Chris Hinkley was able to take his top score from day one on the West Basin to the bank. His second run on Kachina was fast, and aggressive, with several huge airs, notching up the second highest score of the day on that venue. "I just tried to ski fast and clean," said the athlete from Juneau, Alaska.

Other podium finishers for the men included Rob Dickinson (Crested Butte, Colorado), who rode the 2nd spot out of the West Basin onto the podium in that same position and Amon Barker (Taos, NM), who turned up the volume on Kachina to move from 6th after day one into 3rd.

"This was the highest level of competition we've seen in eight years of doing this event" said Taos' Alejandro Blake. "We knew that conditions would be tough this year. The venues were very technical, with little room for error. The athletes really responded, and it was amazing to see how easy they made it all look."

To learn more about the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships, and to see results from past this or past competitions, please visit skitaos.org/freeride. To learn more about the Freeride World Tour, check out freerideworldtour.com.