VAIL DAILY: A lot of people think big mountain skiing always involves powdery cliff drops.
But in the competitive realm of the sport — where judges critique form, line selection and difficulty; and events are scheduled months in advance — often times the snow isn’t so soft.
Vail only hosts one big mountain competition per season. It hasn’t been the best season for snow at Vail.
Nevertheless, athletes enjoyed soft snow and powdery landings at Sunday’s International Freeskiing & Snowboarding Association regional event on the Lover’s Leap run in Vail’s Blue Sky Basin. Just one day before the competition, the resort reported 10 inches of new snow, with more falling in Blue Sky Basin.
“To have powder, the sun out, nice warm temperatures and pretty low wind, that’s a rarity,” Ski & Snowboard Club Vail coach Justin Holder said on Sunday, March 25. “Because of the weather, we got through the event quickly and likely saw less crashes than we would in variable weather.”
Ski & Snowboard Club Vail hosted the event with the help of Holder and coaches Matias Doherty, Matt Luczkow and Lucas Furtiago. About 20 volunteers contributed to the effort, as well.
“We started setting up the event an hour and a half before Blue Sky Opened to the public,” Holder said. “And then we had to tear down everything in a timely matter so we could head out and catch the lifts out of the Back Bowls and not get stuck back there.”
A large finish zone was set up at the bottom of Lover’s Leap, complete with a giant inflatable archway like you might see at the top level of big mountain competition, the Freeride World Tour.
Visible to all who entered Blue Sky Basin, the event attracted many passers-by throughout the day. Hundreds were attracted to the top and bottom of the venue at Lover’s Leap, visible from Chair 37 Skyline Express.
“I had probably 20 people ask me what was going on,” Holder said.
That is the primary motivation in hosting a big mountain event, Holder added.
“It helps show our community what our sport is about,” he said. “People see what it is that these kids are doing, and how impressive it really is. In Vail it’s cool for the competitors to be able to share it with their friends and family, as well, for people who may not be able to make it to a more rural venue like Telluride or Crested Butte.”