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Free heels, dicey lines

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Aspen local Kate Cardamone drops off a rock Saturday during a run down Crested Butte's Headwall at the U.S. Extreme Skiing Telemark Championships. (Tim Kurnos/The Aspen Times)
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CRESTED BUTTE A crash with no burn. At least that’s how local Kate Cardamone described it. The 24-year-old freeheeler took a nasty tumble over some rocks Friday during her second qualifying run down Crested Butte’s Headwall and assumed her run at a U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championships medal was all but finished.Not so, Cardamone said.”I thought the judges would disqualify me,” said Cardamone, the top female skier earlier this month at the Colorado Freeride Series at Snowmass. “I crashed on the rocks and skied out of it hard, but I thought I was done. When they didn’t [disqualify] me, I asked the judges, and they said they wanted to keep me in the competition to keep the level a little higher.”Not that she was going to argue with that reasoning. Or not do everything she could to make her second chance count.Saturday, Cardamone rewarded the judge’s benevolence by carving fluid lines down rock-infested steeps to finish third in the adult women’s division.Her four-run combined score of 125 points was just 1.80 back of silver medalist Sarah Light of Whitefish, Mont. Martha Burley of Fernie, British Columbia, was tops among the field with a combined score of 127.60.”The Headwall was the only place with sufficient snow, but there were rocks everywhere, so it was pretty much figuring out how to do it,” Cardamone said. “The second day, mentally, I was a little more in control. It was very technical stuff where you’re going to want to try and air somewhere, and the better fluidity, the higher the score.”Cardamone also placed an emphasis on speed.

“You want to have it, but you’ve got to be in control, too,” she said. “I’ve noticed that with a lot of girls, they just stand there and wait for a long time as they pick their line. I just tried to keep my feet moving.”

Seventeen-year-old Carbondale local Jake Sakson – who took the gold in the 15-skier junior men’s division – said nearly the same thing. In his first big-mountain competition, Sakson, a student at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, learned quickly what scored points with the judges.He skied fast in his first run Friday, but not down the most technical line, and was in second place heading into Saturday’s heats. Trying to make up ground, he picked the “hardest and most unusual” line he could find, then skied it as fluidly as possible, twice.



His final two runs down the Headwall – worth 36 and 35.8 points, respectively – easily gave him the gold with a combined score of 102.80, seven points more than runner-up Rob Wear of Edwards.”It was a line with bigger drops that I could ski faster,” Sakson said. “I was watching the men, and they were all skiing their lines pretty fast. Stopping really gets you.”Sakson picked up a $250 prize check and a pair of new skis for his win.One of the men the young local took cues from was Mark Welgos of Aspen, currently a student in Durango. Welgos won bronze in the adult men’s division – the most competitive of the six at the event.

Welgos finished with a four-run combined score of 136. 80 points – just a point ahead of Crested Butte local Ben Morello.Vermont pro Dylan Crossman won the top prize with an untouchable four-run combined score of 157.20, which included a 42-point final run. Crested Butte’s Colin MacMillan took the silver with 141.60 points.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com.