Salt Lake City, Utah — Saturday’s incoming storm held off just long enough to wrap up the North American Freeskiing Championships, stop number four of the 2012 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour (FWT) on Snowbird’s “North Baldy”. First time event winners were crowned on both the men and women’s side after two days of competition.
Variable snow conditions and cloudy skies couldn’t dampen the high spirits and energy of the athletes and the huge crowd gathered to watch the action. “Going into today we knew we had a weather window in the morning and lucked out,” said Competition Director Ron Pankey. “Due to the approaching storm it was a one run final with skiers stepping up their game in response. “
No one could touch the lead Kaylin Richardson had heading into the finals, winning her first FWT event and adding North American Freeskiing Championship to the Park City local’s long list of skiing accomplishments with an overall score of 70.30. Two-time Olympian Richardson skied the top of “North Baldy” in her signature aggressive style and sealed the deal with a straight-line cliff drop to finish her winning run. Coming in second, earning a two-day combined score of 67.30 was Jackson Hole’s Crystal Wright who showcased her strong, athletic skiing on the “Amphitheater” section. Rounding out the women’s podium was Snowbird’s Angel Collinson earning a score of 63.57. Wright and Collinson are now tied for the overall 2012 tour title with only the Kirkwood stop left to go this season.
Also winning his first FWT event is Mad River Glen’s Silas Chickering-Ayers who blew away the finals field scoring 41.03 for today’s run, six points ahead of the next competitor of the day, totaling 76.40 for the championship. His big left-side 360 through the “Fields of Glory” was just one highlight of his flawless run. The elder Chickering-Ayers, Lars, winner of Snowbird in 2010 was unable to compete due to injury so it was a fitting honor for his brother to take home today’s championship.
“Despite the hard conditions today I knew everyone would be skiing hard and that I had to send it and stay on my feet,” said Chickering-Ayers. “It couldn’t have gone better.”
In second was Day One leader and Alta/Snowbird local Spencer Brinson who dropped the huge cliff “Blonde Rock” earning a final score of 74.23. Third place went to Crested Butte’s Tom Runcie with a score of 72.30. Runcie also was bestowed with the Backcountry.com Sickbird belt buckle; a coveted award given at each tour stop to a skier who had an outstanding run or trick.
“Runcie got his first nomination on Day One with a huge, high speed double-stage cliff on “Silver Fox”, said Announcer Frankie Alisuag. “He solidified the win after hitting another high-speed double today, exhibiting his strength and confidence with speed.”
With both men’s and women’s champions first time winners, the new wave of freeskiing talent shows an exciting future for the tour.
The 2012 Subaru Freeskiing World Tour continues on next weekend with a Qualifier event in Moonlight Basin, MT March 22-25 and wraps up at Kirkwood, CA April 4-9.