There was an international field of competitors at day one of the North American Freeskiing Championships on Sunday at Kirkwood, Calif., with athletes from New Zealand, Chile, Austria, Canada and beyond throwing down on the 1,500-vertical-foot Cirque.
Heavy-hitters from both the Freeskiing World Tour and the Freeride World Tour came out to compete, but it was local boy Josh Daiek, who made it into the comp by winning the open qualifiers on Thursday, who is currently ranked first in the men heading into the finals, scheduled for Monday.
"A lot of these guys I look up to and watch in the movies, so it's a huge intimidation factor competing against them," said Daiek. "I know I can ski with these guys and to actually do it is such a relief. Tomorrow, I'm going to give it my all and hope for the best."
In the women's field, current Freeskiing World Tour overall leader Angel Collinson, who also won the Chamonix stop of the Freeride World Tour, took a strong, fast run through the Cirque's rockiest section for the highest score on the first day. "I just tried to pick a line today that I knew I could ski really well," Collinson said. "With the two tours combined here, I knew a lot of the girls would be picking bigger airs so I knew I had to step it up."
A massive storm nailed Kirkwood on Friday, dropping up to 37 inches and postponing the competition for two days. "Because of the fresh snow, a lot of people are sending it harder and going really big," said defending champion Dylan Crossman, who's currently ranked second in the men. "But there are some sharks out there, so people are getting snagged unexpectedly." Several competitors suffered serious injuries on the venue on Sunday.
At the end of the day, 31 men and 9 women will advance to Monday's finals, which will be held on the looker's right side of the Cirque.
You can watch a live stream of Monday's finals at freeskiingworldtour.com/live and stay tuned to ESPN Freeskiing for more updates from Kirkwood.