The End of the World Challenge--the FIS-sanctioned slopestyle event held at Cerro Castor in Ushuaia, Argentina earlier this month--might not strike you as anything more than another off-season competition that slope skiers used in their mission to gain points heading into Olympic qualifiers for Sochi. But on the ground in Argentina, it was a big deal. Compared to New Zealand, the other summertime ski hotspot, park skiing has a thin history in Argentina. Even though its western border runs along over 2,000 miles of the Andes Mountains, there are only nine ski resorts, a few modest parks, and not a single halfpipe to be found.
The contest on Argentina's Tierra del Fuego was put together by the Brazilian Snowsports Federation with the help of a Swedish park builder, and was covered by three major Brazilian TV networks. Brazil has no ski resorts of its own, but its startling growth has provided many citizens with the wherewithal to travel to Argentina, Chile, and the States to get their shred fix.
We caught up with Keri Herman, who had her first major win at the End of the World Challenge, to get her perspective on participating in one of the more unique contests on the freestyle circuit.
I was actually very impressed by the course. It was way better than I expected it to be. It was obvious that they didn't have much experience in park because the resort didn't have any rakes for course maintenance. It’s great that even though they do not have all of the tools, they still put in an amazing effort and built a great course. It was a bit smaller and less intimidating that some of the courses we have hit, but I liked that for the beginning of the season.
The town seemed to be extremely excited and supportive. They had a little parade and ceremony in town with tango dancers. It was pretty cool to see so much support from so far away.
The first day, Woodsy [James Woods] and I walked all over Ushuaia. We tried to walk out on a pier to get a better view of the boats and a military guy pulled a machine gun on us! Turns out we weren't supposed to be on that pier.
[The South American skiers] were very nice. I’ve been working on Rosetta Stone Spanish, so it was fun to practice with them. I think now that Argentina is building better courses they will definitely have more opportunities to progress their skills.
The food and wine was amazing. The views were breathtaking. I wish I had time to take a boat ride to see the wildlife, I’m definitely going to have to go back to do that. I’d like to go in the summer and take a trip to Antarctica. I thought it was funny that we kept getting yelled at for not putting the chairlift bar down. That was a difficult rule to remember to follow.