DeVore sticks 2nd at U.S. tele extremes
Eighteen-year-old Aspen native Nick DeVore learned to telemark as a student at Aspen Country Day School, beginning in the fourth grade with the first of many backcountry hut trips with classmates and teachers.
But it wasn’t until his sophomore year of high school, at the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, that DeVore stopped alpine skiing altogether.
“So this is my fourth year really telemarking,” said DeVore, who graduated from Aspen High School last June.
A relative newcomer to the sport nonetheless, DeVore has distinguished himself as one of its finest – and extremist – practitioners. Last Saturday at the Crested Butte Mountain Resort, DeVore pegged second place in the eighth annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championships.
Now a freshman at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, DeVore spent the winter skiing Alta as much as possible, oftentimes with his free-heeling friend and Alta local Dylan Crossman, the 23-year-old defending champ at the U.S. tele extremes.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the two friends finished one, two at the 2004 event.
“I was happy with it, for sure,” said DeVore.
Based on a cumulative score from four runs in some of the Butte’s gnarliest terrain – two in the Hawk’s Nest area on Friday, two in the Headwall area Saturday – DeVore finished with a total of 127.6 points. Crossman led with 135.8 points, while the third-place finisher, Mark Robbins of Crested Butte, tallied a score of 118.8.
Snow conditions, as DeVore put it, “were pretty terrible,” with sunbaked, hard-pack snow Friday followed by dust-on-crust Saturday.
On Saturday, DeVore and Crossman skied the same line in Angle Chute, which included a 35-foot cliff drop.
DeVore’s second run Saturday, and fourth total, had championship written all over it.
“A bunch of jump turns over some little drops and then there was an 8-foot cliff that I straight-lined over toward another cliff,” he explained. “But the next one, maybe a 10-footer, had a little lip on it so I caught huge air, and I crashed, kind of just rolled, and then skied out of it.”
While the U.S. tele extremes included a junior division this year, the division did not exist last year when the 17-year-old DeVore finished fourth among the men. This year’s event included 47 men, a field that was cut in half after the first day.
DeVore, who is also an accomplished climber, hopes the result will help him toward his goal of becoming a professional skier.
“I already get free telemark skis from Black Diamond, but I’d like to, somehow, get paid to ski,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to ski Alaska mountains from a helicopter. Somehow.”
A former junior World Cup of Climbing champion, a title he climbed to in Chamonix, France, during his freshman year of high school while overseas with his family, DeVore is also a former member of the U.S. Youth Climbing Team. Now, he says he’s more focused on skiing than competitive climbing.
“That’s my thing,” he said. “But this summer, obviously, I won’t be skiing a lot so I’ll be climbing a lot.
“The skiing’s getting kind of bad at Alta now – it’s almost fully summer in Salt Lake,” he continued. “I went climbing two days ago in Little Cottonwood Canyon [near Alta], and it was too hot to climb. So it’s kind of hard to motivate to ski.”
DeVore says he’s considering dropping out of school in order to live – and ski – at Alta next winter.
“I really don’t like Salt Lake at all, but Alta, I don’t know if I can ski anywhere else after skiing all that powder – 550 inches this year.”
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Aspen Mountain opened for the season on Wednesday, a day earlier than originally planned. Top-to-bottom snowmaking, a solid recent storm and well-behaved guests made for a great experience despite all of the extra precautions.