Four Aspen freeskiers finish contest in Alaska
GIRDWOOD, Alaska To honor their fallen friend, 27-year-old John Nicoletta, a group of local freeskiers foreran the course Saturday on the second and final day of competition at the U.S. World Freeskiing Championships at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska.Four valley locals also finished the competition – the final stop on the U.S. Freeskiing Series.Aspen/Snowmass athlete Kiffor Berg took 19th in the men’s field with a final-run score of 31.94. Aspenite Mark Welgos was 25th in the final field of 69 men, with 31.5 points.In the women’s competition, 19-year-old Jacqui Edgerly of Aspen – one of the youngest skiers in the field – finished fourth after impressing the judges with an extremely fast final run. Edgerly just missed the podium with a score of 30.88 points, just .12 points less than the score of bronze medal finisher and former tour champion Jess McMillan of Jackson, Wyo.The other Aspenite to complete the competition was Emily Teague, in 18th.Whistler/Blackcomb’sCrystal-Rose Lee topped the women’s field of 26 with a final score of 32.25, just ahead of fellow Canadian, Janina Kuzma, who finished second with 31.75 points.Kent Hyden of Alta, Utah, topped the men’s podium with 36.63 points, with Craig Garbiel (36.25) and Aaron Schmidt (36) finishing second and third, respectively.The U.S. Freeskiing Series titles went to Josh Daiek of Kirkwood, Calif., and Crystal Wright of Jackson, Wyo.McMillan, in an event press release, spoke about the heavy weight of competing a day after Nicoletta fell to his death after dropping in for his run.”This was the most nervous and weird I have ever felt in a competition,” she said. “I always ski to ski another day, and after yesterday, the weight of that was heavy. Today I wanted to ski for myself, for John … and for the sake of skiing. I didn’t really care how I did, I just wanted to make it down to the bottom, and it feels really good to be down here.”Friday’s competition was delayed, then postponed until Saturday after Nicoletta lost control after negotiating a 20-foot cliff and was propelled into an exposed rocky area, according to multiple press reports. Nicoletta was later pronounced dead after being airlifted off the mountain.Saturday morning, a memorial took place on the peak where competitors shared their favorite stories and memories of Nicoletta. The memorial was followed by the local contingent of freeskiers dropping in to forerun the course.
Women’s Nordic combined will not be in the Olympics in 2026, preventing the Winter Games from reaching gender equality. The International Olympic Committee elected to not add the sport to the schedule on Friday.
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