By Jim Harris
"Put your hand up if you landed an entire run today," Colin Collins yelled to some of the athletes at the end of the Cold Rush Slopestyle competition. Only one gloved hand went up.
The second day of competition at the 2012 Red Bull Cold Rush at Silverton Mountain, Colorado, entailed skiing a course with four gargantuan jumps and one rail styled to look like train trestle.
"It's really difficult to trick big features that you've never hit before," said X Games Slopestyle champion Anna Segal. Red Bull photographer Eric Seo put it, "I think big mountain skiers have an advantage in a competition like this. Park skiers are used to sessioning jumps before a comp while the big mountain skiers have a mentality of going big on the first run."
In fact, there were a handful of clean runs yesterday from Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Rachael Burks, and Sean Petit, though more big airs ended in crashes than stomped landings. "Definitely having a freeride competition background helped today," Burks said after landing a laid-out backflip that garnered hoots from athletes and spectators.
After landing her first-ever frontflip but injuring her shoulder, Jackie Passo said, "I wasn't going to go big this Cold Rush. That was my original plan." That same sentiment was echoed by others skiers who iced tweaked knees over beers following the competition.
While skiers grappled with the difficulty of planning tricks onto unknown snow, event organizers seemed relieved to have a venue with fewer variables left to Mother Nature. After avalanches forced organizers to alter the Big Mountain arena and cancel the Cliffs day, the elaborate train trestle rail feature stood as testament to the months of planning that went into Slopestyle day.
In lieu of a Cliffs competition, Cold Rush organizers have scheduled a group powder skiing day at Silverton Mountain. Without the pressure of organized competition, athletes will spend today skiing with friends before judging each other's Big Mountain and Slopestyle lines at an awards ceremony tonight.