After nearly a week of bad weather, competitors in the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour awoke to deep snow and clear skies on Sunday in Revelstoke, BC, for the first day of the Canadian Freeskiing Championships.
In the women's field, Angel Collinson -- the 2010 champion of the Freeskiing World Tour and this year's current tour leader -- took an uncharacteristic tumble during her initial run, opening the door for the 17 remaining female skiers. In the end, the judges decided to move seven women on to tomorrow's final. Leah Evans of Red Mountain sits at the top, with Aspen's Jacqui Edgerly closely behind, and Revelstoke's Tatum Monod in third. With only two points differentiating the top three women, tomorrow's champion is still definitely up for grabs.
"I had been excited to ski that line in the competition for three days," says Leah Evans of her aggressive double-air in an exposed area looker's right in North Bowl. "I skied it a few days ago on a powder day and knew I had to do it. My plan was to straight-line it, but I ended up throwing a turn in there. It was just as fun as I thought it would be, though."
In the men's field of 46 competitors, "the Flying Hawaiian" Drew Tabke led things off and immediately set the standard for what every subsequent skier would be judged by. Tabke's currently leading the men's field going into day two. Longtime announcer Frankie Alisuag's patented Sickbird cackle -- which signifies a nomination for the Sickbird Belt Buckle -- echoed through North Bowl after Tabke, who lives in Seattle, did a massive double through a technical portion of the venue. "There was a bit of drama around the starting positions," says Tabke. "The top five finishers from last year were allowed to choose where they would start for today's competition. Drew Stoecklein, Griffin Post, and I were all looking at the same place and I had a feeling that there was enough snow in that area for only two. Griffin opted to start a bit later and watch Stoecklein and I ski it, so I nabbed the number one start spot."
The rest of the guys mixed stylish, park-inspired spins and rotations -- none more impressive than Collin Collins' huge 720 over rock, which judge Dash Longe described as being "sicker than H1N1" -- with fast, GS-turns, strong straight-airs, and technical skiing through the tight trees and sharky rocks of the venue.
Mad River Glen's Lars Chickering-Ayers hit a zone that no one else even thought, lofting off of an overhanging cliff then straight-lining to his next feature, catapulting him to second place going into Monday's final. Mat Jackson, of Squaw Valley, rounds out the men's top three, earning the spot with a stylish and aggressive line.
For Monday's final, the heli will be flying to Revelstoke's Mount MacKenzie for the 20 men and 7 women who've made it to the last day. Check back with ESPN Freeskiing Monday for the final results from Revelstoke Mountain Resort.