53 skiers make it through qualifying round


MT. CRESTED BUTTE, CO (April 4, 2002)— Under sunny Colorado blue skies and warm spring time conditions, local Crested Butte skier Rob Wright, 24, had the run of the day in the competition and took the lead in the qualifying round of the 11th Annual SAAB U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships presented by Magna Bloc. Wright’s high scoring run on The Headwall, an experts-only 40-degree face overlooking Paradise Bowl, led the field of 56 men with a total of 40.4 (out of 50 possible) points. Rob aired thirty feet and stuck his landing by carving into huge sweeping GS turns all the way down, wowing the hundreds of spectators watching his brilliant performance.

Crested Butte men took six of the top ten spots with a three way tie for second going to Chris Hiam, Crested Butte, Paul Zaleski of Breckenridge, CO and SkierCross champion Ryan McCullough of Lakewood, CO all totaling 38.9 points respectively.  

In the women’s division, 11 out of 16 who competed today will move on to the main competition. Top finishers were Anna Eberle from Fayston, VT with 36 points, followed by two Crested Butte athletes, Stephanie Hausdoerffer and Solveig Garhart.

Kyle Sul of Gunnison, CO, the junior SkierCross champion, leads the junior division with 36.4 points.   Dan Wright of Crested Butte, Rob’s brother, is in second place after today’s qualifying run. 

Qualifiers’ scores are not carried forward—every competitor starts fresh tomorrow with two runs on Big Chutes/Paradise Cliffs, a 500-foot narrow, technical, steep chute with rocks and cliff bands and 38 – 42 degree angles slopes in the Extreme Limits area. This venue will require calculated moves through thick trees and difficult springtime snow pack conditions.  The qualifiers now join 20 seeded skiers, including defending champions Jennifer Ashton, Whistler, BC, and Aaron Estrada, Aspen, CO, and former champions Rex Wehrman, Keystone, CO and Jessica Baker of Jackson Hole, along with a plethora of professional freeskiers vying for top honors.

Five judges—including freeskiers Woody Lindenmeyr, Justin Patnode and Barrett Steimetz; and veteran instructor/competitors Angie Hornbrook (head judge) and Dave McGuire, -- will rate competitors on aggression, form, fluidity, line choice and control.

Tabbed “Skiing’s Greatest Prize” by FREEZE Magazine, the 2002 U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships will award the largest cash purse for a freeskiing competition –  with the men’s and women’s champions each collecting $6500, second place $4,000 each, third place $2500, fourth, $750 and Fifth $500. Killer prizes go even deeper down the line and include product from Atlas Snow-shoes, Smith, Elan, Hard Corps Sports, Backcoutry Access, Carrera, Boeri, Nike ACG, Fate, Bula and others.  Club Med, one of the major sponsors of this event is donating two 7 night trips to any Village in North America.  This prize, for the first time ever, will be a “competitors choice” award for the best male and female run of the event, determined by the competitors, during the final awards banquet.

More than 120 competitors have entered the 11th annual SAAB U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships presented by Magna Bloc which finishes on Saturday, April 6th.


Saab Cars USA celebrates eight years as the title sponsor for this legendary event.   Magna Bloc™, a top-line of therapeutic magnets, is in its third year as the presenting sponsor for the 2002 U.S. Extreme “Freeskiing” Championships. The event receives strong support from a host of national sponsors including: Saab Cars USA, Magna Bloc™, Club Med,  Nutrilite Vitamins and Supplements, Gore-Tex, Paul Mitchell hair products, Coors Light Beer, Swiss Army Brands, title sponsor for the 4th Annual Swiss Army SkierCross,  Evian Natural Spring Water, Jose Cuervo, Sprite, Clif Bar, Boeri helmets, Hard Corps Sports, Wigwam Mills Inc. FREEZE Magazine and Bula.  The event is approved by the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA) and is the North American Tour Championships.


espn2 will broadcast coverage of the entire event next November during their X Block to kick start the 2002/2003 Crested Butte ski season which will begin on Saturday, December 14, 2002.

Editors Note: Crested Butte will fax and email results and features throughout the competition. A video news release will be uplinked and transmitted on Saturday, April 6, 4:00 – 4:15 PM  EST, 2:00 – 2:15PM Mountain Time via Peak Uplink (303) 921-9800.  SBS 6, Transponder 3, 11774 (H).  Photography and B-roll available.  For more information contact Gina Kroft, (970) 349-2201 or gkroft@cbmr.com