Pavillard-Cain, Jillson Win Subaru Freeride Series at Big Sky

Big Sky marked the last stop of the Freeride World Qualifier season

Kirkwood's Hazel Birnbaum took second in the finals at Big Sky. PHOTO: A. Jimmerson/

Kirkwood’s Hazel Birnbaum took second in the finals at Big Sky. PHOTO: A. Jimmerson/

Results from the Subaru Freeride Series last stop of the season at Big Sky, Montana.
Women’s Ski Finals:
1. Francesca Pavillard-Cain, Crested Butte, 148.00
2. Hazel Birnbaum, Kirkwood, 147.33
3. Ashley Bembenek, Crested Butte, 144.00

Men’s Ski Finals:
1. Forrest Jillson, Jackson Hole, 176.33
2. Kyle Taylor, Bridger Bowl, 164.67
3. George Rodney, Alta/Snowbird, 164.33

BIG SKY, MONTANA (April 5, 2014)- The hopes of aspiring 2015 Freeride World Tour athletes hung on the Headwaters venue on Saturday at Big Sky Resort, Montana. The event marked the final stop of the 2014 Subaru Freeride Series (SFS) and Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) season with athletes eager to earn valuable points necessary to advance to the sport’s elite competition level, the Freeride World Tour (FWT). Athletes from both the Europe and Americas regions were present, representing the United States, Canada, France, Russia, Austria, and Andorra.

Snow and low hanging clouds created visibility challenges throughout the day, but intermittent sun made competition possible on the steep face. Athletes received a combined score from two days of competition to determine the leaders. In the skiing competitions, 2014 Freeride World Tour rider Francesca-Pavillard Cain of Crested Butte, Colorado, and Forrest Jillison of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, landed the top podium positions.

The webcast, which was originally scheduled to air live, had been delayed in an effort to make the competition as efficient as possible despite weather holds. A replay of the competition will be available for viewing Tuesday, April 8 at 1 p.m. MDT on and Both fans and athletes will be able to relive the event and watch their favorite riders at that time.

For the female skiers, who were second to run after the women snowboarders, 2014 Freeride World Tour skier Francesca Pavillard-Cain started the competition with a commanding lead after day one. On day two, Pavillard-Cain executed a high-speed straightline double cliff drop through Hell’s Half Acre. Pavillard-Cain received a combined score of 148.00.

“The competition was awesome! The snow was great and it seemed everyone was competing on a really high level. It is wonderful to witness the constant progression of this sport,” explained Pavillard-Cain. “I love the atmosphere on the Subaru Freeride Series. This past season on the Freeride World Tour was a great experience, coming off of a recent injury it was nice to compete in a more familiar environment.”

In second place, Hazel Birnbaum had a similar run to Pavillard-Cain also with a high-speed double but had a lower day one score resulting in a total score of 147.33. Rounding out the podium in third place, Ashley Bembenek charged down Rock Chute and hit the left side of the Tetris Cliff landing in the Rock Creek Amphitheatre. She finished her run with a sizeable air and a score of 140.33.

(Left to right) Ashley Bembenek, Francesca Pavillard-Cain, Hazel Birnbaum. PHOTO: Mark Epstein/

(Left to right) Ashley Bembenek, Francesca Pavillard-Cain, Hazel Birnbaum. PHOTO: Mark Epstein/

Finally, the men’s ski competition stood in the starting gate for their season ending contest. Forrest Jillson laid down two days of high-speed runs through Rock Chute leading into a sizeable air off Tetris rock. He then skied into the Rock Creek Amphitheater where he throttled into the Rock Star double. Jillson’s consistently aggressive performances earned him the top competition score of 176.33.

“This is almost the seven-year anniversary of an accident that shattered my femur. I was told I would never ski again,” recalled Jillson. “Having this win is pretty amazing. Honestly, coming into the corral is pretty sweet. My future in freeriding depends heavily on whether I make it to the FWT. If not I will be here again next year. I just hope to be as consistent this next year as I was this year.”

Winner of the Subaru Freeride Series in Crested Butte, Kyle Taylor took second place with a combined score of 164.67. Taylor picked a unique line down Jack Creek with much fluidity for his day two run. George Rodney, who led after day one and is known for his big air antics, skied a very smart and competitive line, which protected his top day one score and landed him in third place overall. Rodney’s score was 164.33.

(Left to right) George Rodney, Forrest Jillison, Kyle Taylor. PHOTO: Mark Epstein/

(Left to right) George Rodney, Forrest Jillison, Kyle Taylor. PHOTO: Mark Epstein/ Sickbird Winners Jonathan Penfield and Tristan Brown
The day was full with achievements and honors among them was the coveted Sick Bird Award. The award is highly revered by the big mountain freeride community and is granted to the top skier and snowboarder who challenge not only themselves, but also the sport through their athletic performance. Coming off a super hot competition weekend with first place in the 2-star event and third in the 4-star, Jonathan Penfield received the Sick Bird for snowboarding. Penfield flew through a chute at the top of The Headwaters and stomped a massive cliff drop at the bottom. For skiing, Tristan Brown skied fast fluidly through a snow field called the Dance Floor and hit a diving board cliff perfectly executing a sizeable backflip into Hell Roaring in both of his runs. He finished out his second run with a high speed straightline down the zone called Nun’s.

For more information on the Subaru Freeride Series and the Subaru WinterFest, please visit