Freeskiing Open returns to Buttermilk venues beginning with Thursday quals
2019 Freeskiing Open schedule*Schedule is subject to change and is weather permitting
Thursday, Feb. 14
Men’s slopestyle qualifying (four heats), 9:25 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 15
Women’s slopestyle qualifying and finals, 9:15 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Men’s slopestyle finals, 11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
Men’s big air qualifying (two heats), 1:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 16
Women’s big air finals, 9 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Men’s big air finals, 9:40 a.m. - 10:25 a.m.
Women’s superpipe qualifying and finals, 10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Men’s superpipe qualifying (two heats), 11:45 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Men’s superpipe finals, 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Want to one day compete in X Games? Well, winning the Aspen Snowmass Freeskiing Open is one way to get a ski up on the competition.
Held each year at Buttermilk Ski Area on the same courses used for X Games Aspen, the well-attended freeskiing event is set to get underway Thursday with men’s slopestyle qualifiers.
“Historically, kids who do well at the Aspen Snowmass Open — like find themselves on the podium — typically find themselves in X Games within two or three years,” said Aspen Skiing Co.’s Tyler Lindsay, who more or less runs the event. “There is no official relationship between the Open and X Games, but it’s the exact same course.”
Mostly the same, that is. The big air jump and the superpipe will be the same as used by the X Games athletes last month, with a slight tweak having come to the slopestyle course.
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“We just did a real minor adjustment to one of the jumps,” Lindsay said. “There are three straight jumps, and it doesn’t have any of those funny transition hits they had in X Games.”
The Aspen Snowmass Open is a dual-sanctioned event, falling under the umbrella of both the AFP — Association of Freeskiing Professionals — and FIS, which categorizes it as a Nor-Am Cup event. While there are exceptions, it will feature many athletes trying to make it to the World Cup level, not to mention those trying to get the attention of ESPN and X Games.
“This would be a great opportunity for these up-and-coming athletes to earn a bunch of points that will help them get into the World Cups,” Lindsay said.
Last year’s winners included Winter Park’s Birk Irving in the men’s superpipe. Irving made his second X Games Aspen start only last month, taking fifth.
A handful of local athletes are expected to compete this week, with rising star Cassidy Jarrell among the maybes. Jarrell is currently in Calgary for a World Cup event, with qualifying scheduled for Thursday. Should he not make it into Saturday’s halfpipe finals, he’ll likely come home to compete in Aspen.
Competition gets going around 9:30 a.m. Thursday — weather permitting — with the first of four men’s slopestyle qualifying rounds. It continues Friday with the women’s slopestyle qualifier and finals, followed by the men’s slopestyle finals. The big air qualifiers are scheduled for Friday afternoon.
The event concludes Saturday with the big air finals in the morning and both the men’s and women’s superpipe qualifiers and finals the rest of the day.
General spectacting is free from the base of Buttermilk.
There is some serious prize money on the line, with the highest payout going to the men’s slopestyle winner, who will receive a $5,000 check.
While snowboarding has been including as part of this event in the past, it has become a skiing-only competition in recent years.
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