Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Photos and Fun from the 2010 Verbier Xtreme

Julia Mancuso and I taking in the hoopla onstage for the bib draw

This year I competed for the third time in the Freeride World Tour final event, the Verbier Xtreme. The electricity that runs through Verbier during this event has that extra wattage that just makes it really special and thrilling to experience. This year was also extra special due to the 15 year Anniversary of the Xtreme, and in accordance the majority of the past winners came to join in on the week of festivities.
The Women Ski Competitors: Jackie Passo (USA), Ane Enrud (NOR), Jess McMillan (USA), Eva Walkner (AUS), Janette Hargin (SWE), myself (USA) and Julia Mancuso (USA)

Unfortunately I crashed in my run. What a bummer! But it happens. The men got most of the way through their comp that Saturday but the weather came in and shut things down. Ultimately they were forced to postpone their event for a few days. Lucky for me I used this to my advantage and I persuaded the organization to allow me to ski right after the men whenever their event was to take place. Being able to do this run completely made up for my crash, I was absloutely tickled that I threw down a solid run. Let me explain, there are several reasons it was a big deal that I got to ski directly after the men. First off, I had never skied the Bec proper so this was a personal triumph, to not only ski the Bec but ski it well, especially for my first time. Secondly, the women's venue was moved off the top of the Bec and to the shoulder last year. There are a few of us who are not happy with this predicament and are trying to persuade the organization to let us back to the top. Thus, doing my run was a statement that we women can ski the Bec well and belong on that face for competition. Hopefully next year!!!

Part of the Men's Ski bib draw: J.T. Holmes, Cody Townsend, Phil Meier, Jeremie Heitz and Stefan Hausl

This year the Verbier Xtreme celebrated its 15 year Anniversary. It was pretty cool to join this troop of legends.

The infamous face of Death

Media interview with the past Xtreme winners. There is so much hype surrounding this event it is really exciting and totally overwhelming.

Ashley and Heather Call (Alaska buddies!) relaxing in the VIP area during the event. Ashley competed on this face many times, and he won with a killer run in 2000.

The Men's Winner, Kaj Zackrisson!!! This was his 3rd win on the Bec. Will he be back for more? He says he just wants focus on skiing powder. We'll have to see come next March...

The Men's Snowboard Winner and my favorite run of the day, Xavier De Le Rue. CLICK HERE to see his amazing run!

The party in Verbier after the Xtreme is always a blast, which is demonstrated by the smiling faces of my Tahoe buddies Cody, Julia and J.T. in the wee hours of the night.

A perk in Verbier: the bakery having a secret window open for people in need of a pain au chocolat at 4 am.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Video of the Verbier Xtreme's History

This year marked the 15th anniversary of the infamous Verbier Xtreme. In celebration of its past, the organization put together a video of its highlights. I am very honored to be a part of this special history, I won the Xtreme in 2008. This video has some amazing footage!

That rock was darn heavy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chamonix - l'Aiguille du Midi

The infamous l'Aiguille du Midi

I have found myself once again in Europe, but this time I have come to the west side of the Alps. The first purpose of business is to compete in the Verbier Xtreme, which I am totally thrilled to ski. On my first day of arrival I headed to Chamonix to hang for a day. Lucky enough, my fellow Salomon teammate, Chris Reubens, had one more day in Cham before he was to head off to Morrocco. Neither of us had been up the Aiguille du Midi, and we figured that since it was such a beautiful day it was the perfect time to check it out. The Aiguille is anything but short of impressive, another feat by Europeans to build something in a place that seems inconceivable. The Aiguille holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3,842 m. Once atop the view is amazing! The touristy/normal way to ski down the Vallee Blanche is 17 kms long. Even though it is really flat and all but challenging to ski the normal route, Chris and I enjoyed our ski safari down immensely. The views were breathtaking! Now onto Verbier for the ultimate freeride competition in the world... Stay tuned!

Chris Reubens and I enjoying our first experience atop the Aiguille

A partial view of Chamonix

It's amazing and dumbfounding where Europeans have built in the Alps

Just, you know, another one of those beautiful views from above...

Enjoying the ski safari

Following Chris while taking in the sights

Um, and more glacier

Typical Euro sighting- speed flying

The Euro way- enjoying a beer halfway down

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another Few Days in Utah...

Our destination: Mt. Raymond

This past week I found myself back in Utah with the goal of getting some still photos. The last few days have been action packed with lots of skinning, hiking, standing around while waiting for the light, skiing pow, hanging out with my Utah buddies and watching Chad's Gap get hit by Mike Wilson and crew.

Beautiful scenery on our lengthy skin to Mt. Raymond

Jamey Parks checking his line while waiting for a break in the clouds

Mike Wilson sending it over Chad's

Jesse Hall doing the perfect lawn dart

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Austria Part II

A little pillow here, a little pillow there = FUN

After waiting for five days for some fresh snow we finally got some, about 30 cms to be exact. Apparently we had great dumb luck when we choose this valley for our trip, it seems that when a storm from the southwest comes through Austria the Defereggental Valley usually gets the brunt of it. Since the first day of new snow was going to be a cloudy, stormy day we decided to stick to the trees and do the unique experience of tractor skiing. What fun! The tractor has a sleigh attached to haul people up a snow covered road, and most utilize the tractor to reach the restaurant/hut at the top and then go tobaggin sledding down the road. It's pretty awesome when you have fantastic pillow skiing to yourself. At the end of our day we switched it up to the sleds and raced each other to the bottom after having some locally-brewed schnapps and beer, typical Austrian style.

Cody in playland

The next day went blue so we headed up the resort to see what we could find. What we found was avalanches on every aspect all over the valley, and then the wind kicked in as the morning progressed so going up high was completely out of the question. We were able to find a small zone that worked fine (the snow was quite nice), but by the end of the day the avalanche conditions became worse. We completely anticipated this and worked with the conditions accordingly, but when I ended up propogating a substantial slide we decided to call it for the day. No need to put ourselves in anymore danger. That just about sums up our sweet little trip to Austria. Good skiing, good beer and good friends equals great times!

The tractor that gets us up to the goods

I don't mind making powder turns

Cody logging in some airtime

Hmmm... which sled looks the fastest?!

Getting ready for some sledding

Cody bringing out his dorky side, the GoPro cameras have a knack for that

Saucer sledding was a great way to kill downtime

Austria = Beer

Cody making pow turns the Euro way

A quaint little village in a dangerous canyon

As you can see, natural slides eluded no faces

Ben, the cameraman, also enjoying the pow

At the beginning of my slide, you can see it propagating around me

The outcome...

Contemplating our trip. Well... we had a blast!