Wow, what can I say? Taos, New Mexico is one of the coolest places ever. I always knew that growing up a short 75 miles south of there, but being able to go home to a place like that is very special.
The Finals of the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships were held on Kachina Peak, with a start gate at the elevation of 12,400 feet it is the highest elevation start gate of any other freeride competition in the world. I aired off my first cornice in a completely different section than I had inspected, got a good amount of air and then skied sweet, sweet powder turns down to the K3 section of the venue. Slabby snow and a lot of ruts made the steep section of the line a bit challenging for me, but I saw my second air and just decided to send it. I came out of it with so much heat, I couldn’t make it back around to my last feature. I feel like those sort of things definitely happen in comps, and that is why it is great to have as much experience as possible.
The Tobias Lee Spirit Award has a special significance to me. I met Tobias in 2005 at the Taos competition. He was the first competitor I ran into…I believe I am responsible for actually introducing my brother to Tobias! (Funny because they ended up being huge partners in crime if you know what I mean). That year (2005) I placed 6th and my brother placed 5th…but we were both so stoked out on the whole competition that Jim Jack (head judge, IFSA) decided that he needed to give us our very own award and thus spawned the Spirit Award. After Tobias died in an avalanche in 2006, his own positive attitude and contagious good vibes were officially continued on by naming the Spirit award after him. I can’t remember who won the award in 2007, but Joey actually won it again in 2008! Last year was our good buddy Darrell Haggard from Arapahoe Basin. I was bummed at first to realize that they didn’t call my name up for 4th place for the ladies, but after all the awards were said and done, I heard Tom Winter talking about the spirit award and I saw they even had a trophy for it! All of a sudden, I heard my name called out and I got to stand on the podium and guzzle a martini from this badass trophy! (photo coming soon!). Getting the spirit award is so special, because it shows that your attitude has a huge positive effect on the people around you, and it is always nice to be recognized for it. Here’s to Taos and Tobias!
Tomorrow is the qualifier for the Freeskiing World Championships at Snowbird. I am stoked, although the conditions are not very stokeable….Dust on crust to say the least….but hey, She Jumps, right?!