By Corey Hennegan
Published: January 30, 2011
After a three-year hiatus from the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, Jackson Hole returned to host this year's qualifying event. Known as one of the biggest and steepest mountains in all of North America, the resort brought the very best out of all the athletes. As blue skies returned for Day 2, the venue moved from Casper Bowl to Tower Three. Permanently closed to the public, JHMR pulled out all the stops and open the tricky zone to the competitors.
"Tower Three is a bigger venue with higher consequences," said former FWT competitor and judge Rob LaPier. "It was a great opportunity for everyone who was wiling and capable to shred some unique lines and put on a great show."
For the women, Rebecca Selig of Timber Ridge, Mich., and Jackson Hole athlete Crystal Wright, were the two clear standouts on both days. After a clean, mistake free run on Day 1, Wright took advantage of the better snow conditions and skied a technical line with a tricky air in the middle.
"I didn't go exactly where I wanted to go, but it all worked out. It was super fun and fluid," said Wright, who finished with a score of 68.10. Because Wright was already pre-qualified for the tour, the remaining spots went to Kristi Knaub out of Big Sky, Mont., Louise Lintilhac of Stowe, Vt., and Emma Lande from Aspen, Colo.
"I skied Jackson three years ago at the last comp, but not since then," said top finisher Rebecca Selig. Without much knowledge of the terrain, Selig chose a super technical line with tricky terrain traps and some bigger airs. Despite having a couple of hang-ups at the top, Selig was able to finish strong and grab first place with an impressive score of 73.63.
With a crowd-pleasing display from the women, all eyes turned to the men's field. Vail, Colorado's Mark Filippini was a favorite coming into Day 2, but a high speed crash at the bottom dimmed his chances and opened the door for longtime FWT competitor Jesse Bryan to take first with a score of 83.1, as well as the backcountry.com Sickbird Award.
Bryan had the advantage of watching several athletes ski before him, which enabled him to better navigate the tricky top section. "I saw a few people get tangled up high earlier, so I knew I had to airplane the top," said Bryan, who executed his line with precision and fluidity, not to mention stomping a huge air at the bottom.
Following Bryan was young gun Caleb Brown, of Fernie, B.C. Caleb chose a technical line loaded with features and skied it solidly, earning him second place with a score of 80.53.
Displaying his local knowledge of the terrain, Jackson’s Corey Felton nabbed third place by choosing a line less skied. "Having the local crowd here, the local vibe was a huge plus," said Corey, who along with Mark Mikos, Will Soltau, Cody Erwin, Daimon Bushi and Ryan Banker qualified for the FWT.
As the two-day comp came to a close, athletes and spectator alike all agreed that Jackson Hole lived up to its burly reputation and hope to see the tour return again next year.