Revelstoke Shakedown: Subaru FWT

By Greg Fitzsimmons
Published: January 14, 2011

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The Revesltoke stop of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour
began with about 130 skiers, from the U.S., Canada, Chile, Argentina, France, and more. Qualifiers paired things down, 20 of the 54 men and eight of the 19 women, to join the pre-qualified athletes in Day 1 of the Canadian Freeskiing Championships on Revy's North Bowl. "That was some best skiing we've seen in a qualifier," says head judge Jim Jack. "People were throwing down like they normally do in Day 1 of a comp."

The deep snow, forgiving landings, and varied terrain of North Bowl proved to be the arena for some of the most full-tilt skiing the Freeskiing World Tour has seen in a long time. Young grommets, recently graduated from the Jr. Tour, were pushing the "old" guys with attempts at cork-720s, massive 3s to their feet off and burly straight lines through peppery zones of rock. In the men's field, the bar was set high on Day 1 when Drew Tabke dropped in first among the competitors and posted the highest score of the afternoon, leaving the 45 remaining male skiers to vie for the number two spot. On the women's side, Leah Evan's Day 1 line foreshadowed her eventual place atop the women's podium. She navigated her way into an unexplored area looker's right of North Bowl, linking a double-air in the exposed area and demonstrating a creative perspective, coupled with a unique aggression.

At the end of Day 1, seven women and 19 men (Drew Stoecklein unfortunately had to leave Revelstoke to photograph a bass-fishing tournament) made the cut and were able to heli-ski on the Subaru FWT's dime. However, hair-trigger avalanches produced variable snow conditions throughout Mac Face on Mount MacKenzie--the 1,600-vertical-foot venue for the finals. Chunder snow created by the patrol-induced slides proved to be super challenging for the women's field. Leah Evans made the most of her final starting spot and skied a conservative, but fun, line en route to winning the championship. Locals Tatum Monod and Nicole Derksen joined Evans on the podium, finishing second and third, respectively.

On the men's side, east coaster Dominick Malaussena lead things off, and made the most of his first trip west skiing. Having won last year's Ski the East Freeride Tour (STEFT), Malaussena was awarded pre-qualified status at all of the Subaru FWT stops this year. The dude wore a perpetual smile throughout the weekend, reveled in Revelsoke's powder, turned heads during Day 1 with a strong line--and heli-skied for the first time--and ended up jumping from 20th to 11th in the final standings. Needless to say, Malaussena made his Jay Peak fans proud.

"That was so sick," Malaussena said at the bottom of the venue. "I got to fly in a bird and ski some pow!"

One by one, the men dropped in and put on a show for the hundreds of spectators at the bottom of Mac Face. Huddled around a large bonfire or pulling from flasks in feeble attempts to stay warm, the crowd went nuts as Gordon Spurgeon aired over a rocky outcropping high on the venue and pointed his skis. Spurgeon's 900-foot straight line, which had to have topped out at 50 mph, ended abruptly when he hit a compression at bottom of the 45 degree pitch, sending him tomahawking violently. But he came to a stop with his hands raised.

Connery Lundin, who had to miss a week of classes at CU-Boulder, obviously did his homework during the on-snow inspection. The 21-year-old skied one of the most fluid and entertaining lines of the weekend (second only to both of Spencer Brinson's runs from Day 1 and the Finals), mixing two big, clean airs with his fast style. Aaron Schmidt skied super fast, but made it look easy--something everyone has come to expect from the Fernie, B.C. local. Sam Cohen found a niche in the style/creative criteria, throwing a huge 3 and stomping the landing.

When the championship was at stake, though, two the Subaru FWT's heavy hitters threw down. Lar Chickering Ayers was the second-to-last skier to drop in, and he put himself "in the gnar"--skiing an exposed section that nobody else ventured in to. With each turn in the zone, sugary snow beneath him fell away, exposing much rock. He skied it with confidence, unfazed by the consequences. Chickering Ayers' score went through the roof, and put the pressure on Drew Tabke, the lone athlete left at the top of the Mac Face. True to form, Tabke flashed his line. He hit three big airs, but didn't get the 40.84 from the judges that he needed to win the championship. Below Chickering Ayers, Tabke and Brinson took home the second and third spots.>p>

Beer sprayed in downtown Revelstoke as the top three men and women received their hardware. Young Sam Cohen went home with the Sickbird Belt Buckle, and Revelstoke's Tatum Monod walked away with the tommy gun--awarded to the Young Gun of the competition. (Full results here.)

Frankie's Favorites
The former competitor, bigtime fan and longtime event announcer, Frankie Alisuag, compiles a list every competition of the runs that stood out to him. His passion for the sport and constant energy are a vital part of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, and "Frankie’s Favorites" is a list that every athlete would be stoked to be included on. Here are the men and women on "Frankie's Favorite's from the Finals at Revy:

Leah Evans
Tatum Monod (line choice, despite fall)
Crystal Wright (line choice, despite fall)

Sam Cohen
Aaron Schmidt
Connery Lundin
Lars Chickering Ayers