31 skiers advance to final roundJAMEY PARKS AND LAURA OGDEN TAKE THE LEAD IN THE 11TH ANNUAL SAAB U.S. EXTREME FREESKIING CHAMPIONSHIPS PRESENTED BY MAGNA BLOC
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.