Mar 2, 2012
After a qualifying day winnowed the field, The 2012 Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships started rocking in earnest as a stacked field attacked Taos’ famed West Basin Venue. With a wide variety of lines to choose from, including 60-foot airs to demanding technical lines, athletes were able to showcase their diverse styles and talents.
Leading the charge for the men was Breckenridge athlete Sammy Steen. Steen charged the Heavy Timber section of the venue, with a huge air, and currently sits in first place, followed by Crested Butte athlete and former JR competitor Brandon Clabaugh. Crested Butte’s Rob Dickinson sits in third. In the men’s Master’s field, Tahoe’s David Saputo leads Larry Segal (Olympic Valley, CA) and Jon Saputo (Martinez, CA).
For the women, last year’s champion Katie Gillen currently sits in first, followed by Crested Butte, Colorado athletes Alex Reidman and Ashley Bembenek. Gillen’s fast aggressive skiing echoed her championship bid from last year and puts the Taos athlete in the driver’s seat as the event moves to the finals on Kachina Peak.
In the snowboard division, Brandon Reid of Vail, Colorado, leads local athlete and Taos ski patroller Jusin Bobb. Ryan Montoya sits in third. For the women, Tahoe’s Rosemarie Diaek sits in first, with Meghan Moran (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) in second, followed by Breckenridge’s Meesh Hyter.
A stacked JR field sees local athlete Eliza Donahue in front of Emma Patterson (also of Taos) and Winter Park’s Abby Ward. Telluride’s Kyle Koenig leads Steamboat’s Matthew White and Woodinvile, WA athlete Jake Sivinski.
“This was the most competitive field we’ve ever seen, from the JR divisions to the Masters,” says Taos’ Alejandro Blake. “The athletes really stepped it up and tomorrows final on Kachina should be quite a show.”
A 4* Freeride World Qualifier (FWQ) event, this year’s athlete lineup is expected to include some of the top freeride athletes in the world, continuing the Extreme’s tradition of high-level international competition that started eight years ago. The recent agreement between the Freeride World Tour (the sanctioning body for Taos) and the Freeskiing World Tour (organized by Utah-based Mountain Sports International) to harmonize world rankings ensures that Taos remains a crucial event for athletes looking to score points and move on to the top-tier World Tour events. As 4* FWQ event, Taos grants top points for competitors who finish on the podium, and is one of a handful of elite FWQ events in the world.
“It was one of the most amazing days I’ve seen in the West Basin venue,” says Chief of Race Tom Winter. “I can’t wait to see what happens during the finals.”
To learn more about the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships, to watch a live webfeed of the event and to see results from this and other year’s competitions, please visit skitaos.org/freeride. To learn more about the Freeride World Tour, check out freerideworldtour.com. Stay tuned for special see and ski deals that will allow spectators to take advantage of discounted accommodations and skiing during the March 1-3 timeframe of the event.