Freeride World Tour at Kirkwood
The only U.S. stop of the 2013 Freeride World Tour took place Wednesday at Kirkwood, Calif. Low snow conditions in the Tahoe area made for tough riding for the big-mountain skiers and snowboarders, but the competitors made the most of it. The event was held on a permanently closed zone at Kirkwood called The Cirque.
Skiers Sam Anthamatten and Jeremie Heitz scout their lines with binoculars before the start of Wednesday's contest. It was visual inspection only, meaning the athletes weren't able to ski any part of the venue prior to the contest.
Men's ski winner Lars Chickering-Ayers hugs his younger brother Silas, also a competitor. "I've been coming off injuries earlier this season and this is the first comp of the year that I really felt like I could go for it, and it just worked out," Lars said.
Lars Chickering-Ayers skied one of the hardest lines of the day, an air into an exposed, steep chute. "It was pretty much perfect," judge Hugo Harrisson said.
Men's snowboard winner Ryland Bell, a Tahoe-area local, was a wild-card entry into the contest. "I was thinking about our buddy A-Rob, and I just tried to ride like he would," Bell said afterward about snowboarder Aaron Robinson, who died in 2011.
Julien Lopez, from France, got second place among male skiers. Lopez has been competing on the tour for years, he says, because he loves the community of people.
Women's snowboard winner Margot Rozies had two second-place finishes so far this season coming into Kirkwood. The victory in Kirkwood cemented her spot atop the women's snowboard overall rankings.
Snowboarder Sammy Luebke en route to second place on The Cirque.
Ralph Backstrom, the overall men's snowboard leader heading into Kirkwood and a Squaw Valley local, chats with local Kirkwood snowboarder Casey Lucas. Backstrom tied for sixth place, and Lucas took fourth.
Charlie Lyons was one of few competitors from New Zealand. He took third place in the men's ski division.
Tahoe local Sean Collin comes through the finish area at Kirkwood on Wednesday. Collin, a relative newbie to the tour, placed sixth overall in the men's ski division.
American Shannan Yates took third in the women's snowboard division.
Canadian big-mountain skier Hugo Harrisson served as a judge at this year's event. He also judged at Kirkwood last year. "I think these guys rode as well as they could," Harrisson said. "Last year we had better snow but we pretty much saw the same show. People weren't afraid to hit big airs."
The men's and women's podiums at Kirkwood. Next up on the Freeride World Tour? Fieberbrunn, Austria, then the finale in Verbier, Switzerland.