Jenkins sticks another top-5 in extreme skiing
Aspen’s Asia Jenkins braved sketchy conditions at the U.S. Freeskiing National Championships at Snowbird, Utah late last week and escaped with fifth place.
For Jenkins, a 24-year-old Aspen resident, it was her second top-5 finish on the International Freeskiing Association’s (IFSA) World Tour this month, following a third at the Canadian Freeskiing Championships at Whistler-Blackcomb Mountain in British Columbia.
Jamie Burge of Squaw Valley, Calif. won the big mountain, extreme skiing event, based on two competition days. Guerlain Chicherit, a 21-year-old Frenchman, won the men’s division.
The first competition day, in an area known as North Baldy, was marked by dangerous conditions, Jenkins said.
“The rocks were like sharks just waiting for you beneath the surface,” she said yesterday. “It was really, really bad snow up there – totally rotten, rocks everywhere and real sketchball.”
“I fell down a chute during an inspection run. I was going head first, with rocks on both sides of me, until a few guys caught me and righted me,” she said. “So, naturally, I didn’t go that way during the competition.”
In big mountain freeskiing competitions, skiers take the line of their own choosing, and they’re judged on five criteria: control, fluidity, technique, aggressiveness and line. However, a score in any category cannot exceed the line score by more than two points.
On the first competition day, Jenkins skied into fourth position.
“Basically I got lost,” she admitted. “I didn’t know where I was going and I got stuck on top of this cliff band. I had to jump it and land in totally sketchy snow because there were rocks everywhere. But it was good in the long run because it scored well.”
After a one-day postponement due to weather, 15 women advanced to the second competition day, held in the freshly-blanketed West Baldy area.
“The visibility was poor, but the snow was good and the rocks were covered,” Jenkins said. “I took this ripping fast line through the trees, but I didn’t jump any rocks like most of the other girls did, so I lost some points on my line score.”
Jenkins dropped into fifth place after Day 2, behind Burge, Canadians Aleisha Cline and Kirsty Exner, and local Linda Peterson.
“I’m a little disappointed,” she said, “but every time you go to these events, you learn something and that’s what it takes to be a winner.”
“I always lose on my line score, but that’s how it goes,” said Jenkins. “I beat the girl who won [the Canadian Freeskiing Championships], so I’m not getting beat by the same people and that’s good. I’m definitely the fastest out there among the girls, because they always clock your run, but that doesn’t mean you’ll take first.”
“The judges like it if you put yourself over exposed rocks,” she continued, “so when I’m looking for a line next time, I guess I’ll see where I could hurt myself the most and go over there.”
The IFSA World Tour heads over to Europe for its next two stops, though Jenkins said she probably can’t afford to make the voyage over to compete abroad. However, the former 24 Hours of Aspen racer does plan to enter two extreme skiing competitions in North America this season: near Banff, British Columbia, Feb. 11-13, and then at Crested Butte, April 1-3.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.