Low viz, high hopes, and big air: The North Face Masters takes off at Snowbird.
Snowbird, UT, January 25, 2010 - After two days of being grounded due to weather and unsafe snow conditions, The North Face Masters was finally given the green light today on Snowbird's famed Silver Fox venue. With nearly seven feet of snow in seven days, competitors have had to put themselves on hold, although they were treated to several epic days of riding the greatest snow on earth. As the athletes boarded the tram this morning, the nervous anticipation permeated through the crowd of eager riders. The women were slated to start things off, but low visibility threatened to shut things down yet again. Fortunately, the fog began to lift and the middle and bottom portion of the venue revealed its powdery goodness. By eleven o'clock the riders were on the course laying down smooth lines through untracked fields of fresh. With an abundance of soft landings to be bombed, the women showed their fearlessness as they hucked themselves off every terrain feature in sight. Squaw Valley's Iris Lazzareschi slayed a technical line down the east side of the venue just as the clouds parted, if only for a brief moment. The windlips up high were great and the course was fun, said Iris after her run. Other standouts included Snowbird locals Kaitlin Locke and Laura Dewey. However, it was former Master's champ, Shannan Yates flawless performance that earned her the coveted Katana Sword.
With the conclusion of the women's competition, the men prepared for their assault on the course. Due to the delays brought on by weather, this event would be one run and done style, so every turn meant the difference between in and out of the rankings. Heavy hitters, Rob Kingwill and Travis Rice, promised to bring the best to the table, and the crowds weren't disappointed. Some world-class billy-goating high up on the venue marked Rob's run, and his solid stomp of a 30+ footer at the bottom of the course drew applause from all in attendance. Always the showman, Rice started out his run with a big slash for the cameras up top and several big airs over peppery take-offs throughout the venue. After his run, Travis simply said, Damn fine course, damn fine snow. As the comp continued, the international riders from New Zealand, France, Japan, Russia and Canada made their countries proud as they carved and hucked their way through the course. Another fine performance came from the event's oldest rider Dave Watson, 41 years young, as he tore up the Fox and went huge at the bottom. When asked what was going through his mind as he sent it over the last cliff, Dave laughed and said, I hope I don't hit those rocks. By the time the dust settled and the judges conversed, Mark Carter of Jackson Hole was crowned the winner of the men's division. Fluidity and aggressiveness were the hallmarks of his run, and he noted, I just wanted to do something that nobody else had done.
Yates and Carter will defend their titles at the next Masters event in two weeks at Crystal Mountain in Washington.