Extreme skiers, big-air specialists on display today at Snowmass | AspenTimes.com
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Extreme skiers, big-air specialists on display today at Snowmass

Aspen Times Staff
Local skier Brian Anzini launches over the bottom choke of the Carrot Chute during the first Colorado Freeride Series competition in the Burnside Cliffs in last year's Powerade Colorado Freeride Series at Snowmass. (Courtesy Justin Wetdirt)
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In recent weeks, elite skiers and snowboarders flocked to Buttermilk to test their skills in the Winter X Games and the Aspen/Snowmass Open.Today, Snowmass takes its cue. The mountain will play host to two events that will showcase promising amateur and professional riders.

An extreme freeride competition, part of the Powerade Colorado Freeride Series, will take place at 10 a.m. today and Saturday. Skiers and boarders will take on the demanding steeps of the Hanging Valley Headwall, as well as the Burnside Cliffs, which promise to test a competitor’s nerves and prowess. Both faces are littered with rocks, cliffs and hanging snowfields. The more than 20 feet of fresh snow should make for ideal conditions.While the event draws big names, like former U.S. freeskiing champion Rex Wehrman, locals have also made a strong impression on the field in recent years. Jane Somerville, of Snowmass Village, was the women’s division champion in both 2004 and 2005. Last year, she won all four competitions.Aspen’s Nick DeVore finished first in both of week one’s competitions last year. He was just 19 and finished on telemark skis, too.

This event, like last weekend’s Aspen/Snowmass Open, has a unique component: Registration is not restricted to pros. Amateurs 16 and older may compete alongside the sport’s well-established athletes. Registration is closed, but interested competitors will be able to sign up for 10 remaining spots at 7 a.m. today. The cost is $40 for a single event, $100 for all series events and $180 for the entire series and the championship. “We like to make these events accessible to all levels of athletes,” Skico event manager Tami Solondz said. “A lot of these athletes are up-and-coming.”

Solondz is spearheading Bud Light Big Air Fridays, which starts at 2 p.m. today and tentatively runs for seven straight Fridays. Skiers and snowboarders will attempt to wow judges with their amplitude and style as they launch off a jump on Fanny Hill, near the Snowmass Mall. Competitors will participate in a 40-minute jam session, at which point judges will choose four boarders and four skiers to advance to the final round. Finalists have one jump and will be placed according to best trick.Registration, which takes place from 12:30-1:30 p.m. today, and is limited to 20 skiers and 20 snowboarders, is also open to pros and amateurs. The entry fee is $20 per event. The competition is open to athletes of all ages.Live band performances follow each day of competition, from 3-4:30 p.m. Fireworks will light up the sky above Fanny Hill at 7 p.m.


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