Words: Scot Chrisman and Daryn Edmunds
Photos: Scot Chrisman and Diane Harrrington
The North American Freeride World Qualifier series kicked off this past weekend with a statement. As a fellow competitor, I can say the level of competition was mind blowing. Anywhere you could imagine in the West Basin venue people were not just navigating, but sending it huge.
Day one set the pace of competition with huge lines in Heavy Timber and Water Fowl; and technical lines paired with new school style in Bamboo Chute and the “mini golf “ section lookers left side of the venue.
Ian Borgeson continued his dominance in Taos bring a 1st place back to A Basin. This was Ian’s first comp as an adult and he crushed the field with huge corked spins and monster gap jumps. CB ripper Brandon Clabaugh took second by sending large airs relentlesly in his sweet 1990′s era wrap around shades. Taos’s own Garrett Altman rounded out the top 3 with a creative run that included a large bonus air at the end.
Another Colorado athlete, Caleb Mullen, made his presence known with a huge fourth place finish. Caleb, who has been on the tour for 17 years took the bottom half of the venue in two huge airs that really got the crowd up and off their seats.
Connor Pelton and Connery Lundine showed their style and solid skiing backgrounds putting together multiple 3’s and flips. Matt Francisty showed why he deserves multiple finals appearances with two strong lines in the West Basin venue, unfortunately he had a punchy landing and front flipped out his biggest air on day 3. Jake Sakson continued his tele dominance landing huge airs all 3 days.
The women showed their finesse and tenacity on each venue despite conditions. Franchesca Pavillard – Cain dominated West Basin and comfortably put together the 3 day event. Sasha Dingle skied one of sickest lines of the weekend on Kachina in the finals bumping her all the way into second place. The 3rd place spot was claimed by Hazel Birnbaum-Wilson in another come from behind move in the finals.
Several competitors tried to tough out injuries during the comp with Jaqueline Knutson showing up with a fractured Femur and Ed Dujardin sending it hard with a torn up ankle. One of our good friends took a big hit and left the venue in a sled. Big ups to Darrell Haggard for sending the gnarliest line of the comp. He missed his entry angle by a degree or two and it cost him a very hard hit to a tree. Good vibes out to our long time friend and competitor.
Taos Ski Valley, Salomon, Red Bull, Stoli Vodka and the rest of the sponsors put together a solid event. I look forward to coming back. Competing and skiing at Taos will always be something I look for to. The venue is like nothing I’ve ever seen and the locals were as supportive as any. Zion I capped off the event, the lyrically talented crew and DJ Amplive were the perfect end to an awesome week.
We have since departed Taos and many of us head to Castle Mountain for another FWQ competition. Congratulations to all the competitors, sending thoughts to Darrell Haggard, heal quickly. The pace of competition just keeps increasing; I can’t wait to see what the next competitions have in store.