By Alex West
The Freeskiing World Tour was back at Kirkwood this weekend for the twelfth year in a row. On the first day of qualifying it dumped over two feet of classic Sierra snow. This dense, goopy stuff sticks to everything and wouldn’t budge if it got struck with an ICBM-- simply put, it’s perfect for a steeps contest.
Kirkwood’s venue, The Cirque, is one of the best in the country because it’s got vert (1500′), steeps (up to 60-degrees), and all sorts of options for billygoats and meat huckers alike. Plus, it’s permanently closed to the public and therefore only sees tracks a few days each season. The start is moved from the right side of the peak on Day One to the left side for the Superfinals. The natural amphitheater below is a perfect spot for the local animals to showcase their snowball throwing and Jager drinking skills.
This year’s comp saw the first-ever female recipient of the coveted Sickbird Award. Janina Kuzma from Treble Cone, New Zealand scared just about everybody watching as she headed for one of the steepest sections of the Cirque with an exposed, mandatory-air exit. She nailed a long airplane-turn and came out hot. Oh yeah, she did it twice.
Bad weather moved in during the final heats and the eventual women’s winner considered altering her gameplan. “I was going to change my line but I stuck with my guns, stayed on my feet and I’m really happy,” remarked the Kiwi after the win.
Men’s winner Dylan Crossman, dual-citizen from Alta and Mad River Glen, attacked the Cirque with smooth style and creative line choices sticking a nice 360 in the middle of his run.
The subtle highlight was this: the Superfinal men’s heat was cancelled for weather so all ten of them skied down together. Most of the crowd had left except for their buddies and a couple reporters. While most of the guys descended like I would (nothing you’d want to watch), a few went for it. Crossman hucked about three cliffs on the way down and said afterward, ” Nobody was judging it (for the comp) but I was.”