31 skiers advance to final round

Jamey Parks on Paradise Cliffs. photos by Joseph Rehana.
MT. CRESTED BUTTE, CO (April 5, 2001)- Veteran World Freeskiing Tour competitor, Jamey Parks, of Alta, Utah, impressed judges with near-perfect form, aggression, speed and control to take the lead today at the 11th Annual SAAB U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships presented by Magna Bloc. Caleb Mullen of Sweitzer Mountain, Idaho, charged at his lines through harried sections that landed him in second place ahead of Crested Butte skier Gary Hicks. Local boy Willy Mushen, last year's second place finisher is in fourth position, with John Witherspoon of Winter Park, CO close behind in fifth.

Today's competition was on Big Chutes/Paradise Cliffs, a 500-foot narrow, technical, steep chute with rocks and cliff bands that required pin-point accuracy on 38 - 42 degree angles slopes in the Extreme Limits area. The venue required calculated moves through thick trees and difficult springtime snow pack conditions. Heated competition shaved the field to 20 men, 6 women and 5 juniors.

Laura Ogden of Tacoma, WA, a top-ranked IFSA competitor, posted the strongest run of the day to take the lead in the women's field. Following close behind were Jay Peak, VT skier Asia Magriby, who works with extreme skiing legend Dan Eagan, Vickie Bates of Snowbird, UT, followed by Red Lodge, MT skier Ingrid Backstrom and Lori Testa of Breckenridge, CO.

Junior competitor Kyle Sul, of Gunnison, CO, retained his first place position -Kul, the junior skiercross champion earlier in the week continues to impress the judges with his aggressive lines and technical and fluid runs. Ben Broche, South Lake Tahoe, CA, and last year's junior extreme champion, skied well enough to move into second position followed by Dan Wright of Crested Butte. The juniors have decided to count every run, including their qualifying day run, and calculate the winner cumulatively.

Due to unseasonably warm temperatures, two venues for the finals were offered to the competitors by the Crested Butte snow safety department. The competitors decided to go back to the Headwall, where two runs would be possible as opposed to one run in Phoenix Bowl. Tomorrow's final venue, the same venue used in the first ever finals of the U.S. Extreme Skiing Championships in 1992, will offer a 650 foot vertical drop over a 43 degree average slope. It was a unique situation in sports where the competitors -- organized through the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA) - themselves decided their own fate.

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, Scott, 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.

Saab Cars USA celebrates eight years as the title sponsor for this legendary event. Magna Bloc(tm), 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(tm), 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