KickAspen champ: ‘This one’s for Nick’
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Drew Fuller, a 2002 Basalt High School graduate, says he wasn’t much of a second baseman for the Longhorns.
Still, after sticking an enormous backside corked nine to stitch up the snowboard title and $2,500 in the KickAspen Big Air Invitational Friday night, the 20-year-old Fuller wasn’t far removed from the BHS diamond.
“This one’s for Nick,” he said.
A tribute to Nick Alcorta, the former BHS baseball coach who died March 11 at age 39, Fuller said the coach left a lasting impression on him.
“Great coach. Great person. So sad.”
Fuller, who now lives in Salt Lake City and rides Park City Mountain Resort, Brighton and “as much backcountry as possible,” snatched his first career contest championship with a well-executed barrage of backside nines, launched some 60 feet off the table-top jump at the base of Ajax.
Aspen resident Avery Karas, a pipe and park worker at Buttermilk, finished second behind Fuller in the snowboard division. Karas collected $1,500, while J.J. Thomas of Golden, the 2002 Olympic halfpipe bronze medalist, netted $1,000 for third.
“In the finals, [Karas] was conservative ” but Fuller went huge,” said Travis McLain, an Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club snowboard coach who was among hundreds of fans watching.
Fuller did not grow up riding with ASVC, instead he came up with a crew of local riders, and up-and-coming professionals, like Ryan Lougee, Doran Laybourn, Devin Schutter, Kelly Smith and Mitch Reed.
“It’s awesome. It’s pretty much a dream to come and win the KickAspen Big Air,” said Fuller, who also rides regularly at the D.C. Shoes Mountain Lab, a private terrain park in Park City for D.C. riders. (“It’s getting snowmaking next year,” Fuller grinned.)
In the skiing division, Charles Gagnier of Mount St. Anne, Quebec, Canada, narrowly edged Carbondale phenom and 2004 Winter X Games double-medalist Peter Olenick for the championship (and $2,500 versus $1,500).
Summit County’s John Ciriluk was third, beating Snowmass Village freeskier Steele Spence in the head-to-head consolation final (for $1,000).
In both ski and snowboard divisions, the field of 15 riders and 19 skiers was cut to eight after a free-for-all jam session.
In the semis ” Spence versus Gagnier ” Spence threw a big switch misty 10 (off-axis front flip with three spins, landing backwards), while Gagnier offered up a large switch 1080 (three spins, landing backward).
Spence had to tip his cap to the man who advanced to beat Olenick (whose younger brother Michael also competed).
“That kid has gotten shafted in so many contests I’ve been to,” said Spence. “Well earned? Definitely.”
Said the 18-year-old Gagnier, in a French-Canadian accent: “It’s been a long time since I podiumed, so I’m pretty stoked.”
“Peter and Michael Olenick, Steele, [Ciriluk], they all had good tricks. It’s just about who lands best. Or the guy who goes bigger.”
In the finals ” Peter Olenick vs. Gagnier ” Gagnier prevailed with a switch 180 reverse tail grab, “maybe 65, 70” off the kicker. “All switch 1080s ” that was my big trick tonight,” he said.
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The VISA Big Air World Cup kicked off Thursday at Steamboat Resort with snowboard qualifications, including two men’s heats in the morning and one women’s heat in the afternoon. The top 10 men made the finals, scheduled for Saturday, while the top eight women qualified for the finals.