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Big Mountain Comps

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
It's a relatively new form of skiing competition and will probably continue to evolve in some natural way. What do you skiers think of it? What are the issues around another subjectively judged ski event? (see figure skating fiascoes) How dangerous is it and is that a reasonable condition in which to compete? Is there a place for more (not too many) gates on the course? Is getting enormous air to continue to hold the place as the biggest point getter on a run? Could the sport be structured in such a way as to have a Master's class (my angle here)? What is needed to make it a better spectator sport, more media coverage, and therefore more dough? yeah! weigh in heavies in body armor, wannabies calling themselves extreme skiers, and spectators who can't believe what they are seeing alike. let's hear ya'.
post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
It's a relatively new form of skiing competition...
Uh, what is it?
post #3 of 22
there is forum for this sort of thing.

I havent done any yet but plan to do at least snowbird this year and maybe a colorado freeskiing event. So I am rookie. Tyrone and Samuri both have competed in these events and tyrone still competes. Over on TGR there are dozens of people that compete and some very successful skier over there.

What do you skiers think of it? I think it will be way to push my limits in a sport that I love and meet people who are liked minded.

What are the issues around another subjectively judged ski event? any judge event will ahve issues the judges are former competiors and hopefully do the best they can.

How dangerous is it and is that a reasonable condition in which to compete? not sure what you mean by the second part. The first part, very dangerous you could die easily if you make a bad mistake. this sport is real, more real than anything most people will ever experince their lives.

Is there a place for more (not too many) gates on the course? whats gates do you speak of? the only gates are the start and finish gate thats th beauty of it, its is called freeskiing.

Is getting enormous air to continue to hold the place as the biggest point getter on a run? to be honest i dont even know if it the biggest point getter. I think that line choice is the biggest and that your score in other catergory can only be 2 higher than your line choice.

Could the sport be structured in such a way as to have a Master's class (my angle here)? anyone can compete as it stands I believe that their are 40+ catergories in some of the local series.


What is needed to make it a better spectator sport, more media coverage, and therefore more dough? as skiing goes it quite possiably is the best spectator sport outside of pipe skiing. IN most cases you can see the entire runs from the bottom. The problem with it is middle america understands whats they see in the X game type competions. They understand spinny flipping things. They dont understand the difficultly of skiing these lines with speed. Plus overall skiing is a pretty obsure sport in america this obsure part of the an obsure sport. Most people cant even think about skiing similar lines as these people and those that could very few would think lauching a 20 foot cliff would be a good idea.
post #4 of 22
to answer some more questions

http://coreshotfilms.com/ there is very good trailer in on this website about the sport know as big mountain freesking
post #5 of 22
I'd say, "you'd better be pretty good." And pretty young. I'm not a big fan of sports that involve judging, though obviously the guys who do these competitions at top level are great skiers. Tough to get into it on TV in my book. You need a really big screen to assess the difficulty. Pretty dangerous sport around Masters level, I'd say.
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
It's a relatively new form of skiing competition and will probably continue to evolve in some natural way.
BM competitions started around early 90's-ish (maybe earlier). The first comps were the old WESC series in Valdez and the Crested Butte Extremes. I think Whistler had an event around then to and Squaw soon got in on the action with the All Mountain Extremes (think they only had this one year though).

Today...there are many many more of these comps. There are two separate "World" tours, a US tour, and many smaller feeder events and independent, local comps. i've been trying to compile a list of them here:
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=59906

Quote:
What are the issues around another subjectively judged ski event?
The IFSA (International Freeskiers Association) (www.freeskiers.org) was organized by Shane McConkey in mid 90's and one of it's goals was to put in place some organization to the judging criteria. Sure there will be variance in the judging, but IFSA sanctioned events (at least the ones that i've competed in) are pretty clear on how they are judged and pre-comp meetings the judges will clearly tell you what they are looking for and not looking for. The judging categories are Line, Control, Fluidity, Technique, and Overall judged on a scale of 1-9 for a top possible score of 40 points.

Quote:
How dangerous is it and is that a reasonable condition in which to compete?
Like any sport, it can be very dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. The sport does have a very good safety record overall I believe for being around for 10 years or so. I believe (I could be wrong) that the only fatality in a big mountain competition was just this past year (RIP Neal Valiton).

IMO it could be argued that a world cup downhill race...such as the Hahnenkam is just as, if not more, dangerous than a big mountain competition.

Quote:
Is there a place for more (not too many) gates on the course?
Gates? What gates? there are no gates. There is a start. And there is a finish. IMO no place for gates in this except to rope off closed features.

Quote:
Is getting enormous air to continue to hold the place as the biggest point getter on a run?
Enourmous air does not, and hasn't for a long time, held the place as the biggest point getter on a run. The judges frown upon reckless dudes just going for the biggest airs.

I've seen this first hand last year at the Squaw Valley competition and during the Kirkwood World Tour Qualifiers. At both comps respectively the dudes who went the biggest on Day 1 didn't even come close to qualifying for Day 2. 'Balls' is not a judging criteria. (although could possibly be awarded with the coveted "Sickbird" award)

That being said, the most important judging criteria is the Line score. Every other category is scored based on your line score first.....and no other category can score 2 points higher than your line score.

A higher line score is given to a more difficult line. More difficult as in more technical, more exposure, could include more air but doesn't have to etc. so for example, if you ski an easy line that judges award a 4 for a line score, then that means the max score for every other category (i.e. technique, control, etc.) can only be a 6. So it does benefit you to pick a difficult line, but yet one that you can comfortably ski. Picking a difficult line, but skiing it like crap, will get you no where.

Picking your line is a HUGE part of strategy.

Quote:
Could the sport be structured in such a way as to have a Master's class (my angle here)?
there is no age limit to enter these things. but I do believe that the Crested Butte comp does have a Masters category (some others might as well).

Quote:
What is needed to make it a better spectator sport, more media coverage, and therefore more dough?
It's starting to get more recognition slowly. This season a great movie was released that documented the entire US Tour (Linescore by Coreshot Films) and this should help bring some more attention to it.

Prize money is on the increase as well. this year there are two individual World Tours. 1) the IFSA World Tour put on by Mountain Sports International which has been going on for a few years and can be found at www.usfreeskiing.com and 2) the new Freeride World Tour (FWT) organized by Nicolas Hale-Woods. More information on this can be found at www.xtremeberbier.com

It's definitely not as viewer or TV friendly as say a halfpipe or slopestyle comp is. On site spectators usually have to watch through binoculars to see action up close and TV camerman could have difficulty getting into prime spots on the mountain. Although some of the Euro events have figured out how to film these things by cameramen on course and through helicopters and the live action is shown at the base area on large screen tvs and sometimes streamed live via the web (i.e. www.bigmountainpro.com; www.xtremeverbier.com; and www.bigmountain-heliride.com)
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

Wrong forum, my bad, I didn't check it out

Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
there is forum for this sort of thing.

.
and still, bringing it out here in the general area, it will develop into a different discussion than in the rarefied atmosphere of the racing ...etc forum. hope you guys don't mind.
post #8 of 22
BM comps are the best thing that ever happened to skiing. I love watching FIS races, but IFSA BM is just different. (It's not actually that new, btw. Think late eighties.)

Subjective? maybe for everyone between 4th and 200th place. The top 2 or so are always in a league of their own... and it's obvious to everyone watching. Unless of course you know someone in that league... they don't tend to view it that way.

Reasonable danger? People have died. That won't stop events from forming to give athletes the venue, and an atmosphere from which to feed, for following the dedication of committing one's self to taking their skiing to the next level on those specific days... vs. waiting for the right day. (At least, that's what it was about for me.)

No, there is not a place for more gates on the course. Allowing skiers to choose their own lines results in seeing expressions you yourself (and any other athlete) never imagined.

The biggest air does not win the event. I know. It does, however, often win that individual athlete's 'best memory' award. I never won any events, but I do have memories of being upside down a hundred feet in the air. And those memories dwarf the memories of the lines of the guy who won those events.

Needed to grow; venues that are spectator-friendly. Many of the world-tour venues can't accomodate spectators... so they put big screens down in the village. that's a compromise. Pipe rules the airwaves because it's up-close and personal and the crowd is consolidated.

Pipe does not rule the videos, however, BM does. At least not in the videos I own... which would be a subjective decision.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 

Gates, what gates? We don't need no stinking GATES, Man

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
Gates? What gates? there are no gates. There is a start. And there is a finish. IMO no place for gates in this except to rope off closed features.
"badges? what badges? we don't need no stinkin' badges"....blasting of giant revolvers. totally bad as-! I dig it, man.

thanks for all the good info. had a blast at Squaw's event last year. very, very gnarly! bet you know it.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
had a blast at Squaw's event last year. very, very gnarly! bet you know it.
had a blast there too and was enjoying my run until I ate it on my very last air (so lame and i suck).

But i do these things for the expierience and to have fun....and man, no matter what the result, there is not much else to compare to having your line memorized in your head (or sorta memorized...heh), your friends screaming their heads off at the bottom for you, and the starter counting down '3!..2!...1!.....gO!!!"; and then pushing off into the abyss as the terrain just rolls over in front of you....
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BushwackerinPA View Post
. Plus overall skiing is a pretty obsure sport in america this obsure part of the an obsure sport.
I am impressed, you misspelled obscure three times in one sentence, strong work!
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
It's definitely not as viewer or TV friendly as say a halfpipe or slopestyle comp is. On site spectators usually have to watch through binoculars to see action up close and TV camerman could have difficulty getting into prime spots on the mountain. Although some of the Euro events have figured out how to film these things by cameramen on course and through helicopters and the live action is shown at the base area on large screen tvs and sometimes streamed live via the web (i.e. www.bigmountainpro.com; www.xtremeverbier.com; and www.bigmountain-heliride.com)
If there was enough money backing production of big mountain freeskiing, I see no reason that it couldn't be every bit as well covered, or better than Olympic downhills are, and more so, as the courses aren't as long, and they don't skis as fast.

Unfortunately, it DOES take money to make a decent TV production, and the money will be slow to come, until these comps increase in popularity, but the exposure is what they need to increase in popularity. A bit of a Catch-22, but not entirely a dead end, as I think that idealistic ski film production companies such as TGR, and MSP are gradually increasing the popularity of watching people ski the big lines. As well as Tyrone Shoelaces, of course, the ambassador to big mountain skiing on epic.
post #13 of 22
Darn! When I saw "comps" in the title, I thought someone was going to tell us how to get complimentary skiing at big mountains
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 

Pipe dream # 23, filming BM comps with a couple bros

Quote:
Originally Posted by volantaddict View Post
If there was enough money backing production of big mountain freeskiing, I see no reason that it couldn't be every bit as well covered, or better than Olympic downhills are, and more so, as the courses aren't as long, and they don't skis as fast.

Unfortunately, it DOES take money to make a decent TV production,...
You know six camera persons could cover it. that isn't a lot of dough if you keep the beer coming. (6 digital video camera can be rented for each event, and a couple fluid heads). But I still think it is the hottest thing in skiing, and filmed right, what a f'ing series it would make, 6 cameras, some slo-mo, an across valley super tele shot, some wide angle over-cranked along the course. man! it would be cool. so anyone out there got some motivation and some gear, (I have met some dudes at Squaw working for some tiny company from Kirkwood who know what they are about) and I can man a camera somewhere on the course when the comp is near Tahoe, or money for a ROAD TRIP, let's ride! Of course it's a dream, but as a friend of mine in that bus once said, "that's how they all start". First step, sell the storyboard to the network. anyone out there able to cover that part?
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
had a blast there too and was enjoying my run until I ate it on my very last air .
Ty, no, you were skiing the comp, I was sitting on a bench carved in the snow with the guys from Granite Chief sipping a giant Fosters. Those airs onto patches of chalk only 10 feet across were the scariest thing I have ever witnessed. I almost dropped my beer. A little more snow this year for you guys, eh?
post #16 of 22
I wonder if Tyrone or anyone else who's skied in these events would be into recounting a competition from start to finish. You know, like preparation, scouting lines, what you eat before the competition, anything, really. Day in the life kind of thing.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by prickly View Post
I wonder if Tyrone or anyone else who's skied in these events would be into recounting a competition from start to finish. You know, like preparation, scouting lines, what you eat before the competition, anything, really. Day in the life kind of thing.
kind of hard to pull from recollection right now, but i'll definitely report in with some trip reports this year as these things approach.

And actually, here is a re-post of a blog my general experience from this past years Kirkwood comp:




Wednesday, March 28th - Qualifiers

Last week I competed in the 2007 North American Freeskiing Championships at Kirkwood. It's the final stop on the IFSA US Freeskiing Tour as well as the second stop on the IFSA World Freeskiing Tour. Being a World Tour event, you need to first qualify for the 2 days of competition.

Qualifying was held on Wednesday, March 28th with 84 skiers. Out of these 84, they took the top 34 skiers to advance to Friday's Day 1 of the World Tour event where they'd join the 40 or so prequalified skiers who are already part of the World Tour.

Qualifying day dawned very VERY windy and nearly every lift in the morning was on a wind hold. To get to the top of the venue, competitors had to take a lower lift and then a snowcat to get to the top, and due to this there would be no time for any sort of inspection runs. Everyone would be skiing there qualifying comp run 'blind' so to speak. Advantage immediately went to skiers later in the day as they get to see most everyone else's run and see what type of lines guys were taking.

I was skiing 34th nearly in the middle of the pack. Without an inspection run, I knew most people would be skiing slight variations of a nearly identical line, so I scanned the venue looking for something different. My eyes were immediately drawn to a line on the lookers left side of the venue...a small snow field that ended in a wall of rock and cliffs.

"Hmmm...I bet most people are going to dismiss that line as un-passable. Maybe i can figure out a way through there and score well."

I studied the line as best I could from the bottom and determined that it did indeed 'go' but I had to walk on rock a bit on the bottom and jump from rockband to rockband to get through. My one worry was that aside from the difficult bottom section of the line, the top was fairly easy, so I wasn't sure if it would score too well, but still figured it was different enough to get me through and qualify.

Luckily for me, I figured a way through the line and qualified for Day 1 of the World Tour to be held in the Cirque on Friday. The judges gave me a decent line score for this venue (6), but docked me on my fluidity score as I scrambled around on the rocks a bit trying to find where to take off and land from. Talking to the judges afterwards, they said that they were stoked to see someone try something different and if I had skied it faster and more fluidly, there would have been a good chance I could have qualified top 10 or even top 5...but thus as it stood, I qualified tied for 20th. No matter though, as all scores from this day are thrown out, and we all start from scratch on Friday when it really counts.

My friend Rick shot video of my line from Qualifying...here it is:



Friday, March 30th - Day 1 World Tour Event
So having qualified on Wednesday, I earned the chance to ski against the skiers who were pre-qualified for the World Tour on Friday. This venue was the skiers left side of the Cirque. I was starting again in the middle of the pack and got to watch a lot of the earlier skiers come down. Lot's of guys were falling. So many in fact that I began to think if I could just stay on my feet and ski a fluid line, I should score well enough to advance. I originally had a fairly crazy line picked out for myself that was just on the edge (if not a little beyond) of my abilities and it was fairly risky. So on the way to the top, I bailed on my original line choice and decided to ski something safer that would just serve to score me enough points to advance to the World Tour Finals on Saturday. I took a pretty mellow line, but stayed on my feet, and tried not to hesitate as I moved through the venue. I was thinking I wasn't going to make the cut as a lot of strong lines were being thrown down and I began to think I played it too safe. Luckily for me however, they nearly cut the field from Day 1 in half and advanced 34 skiers to Saturday's Day 2 World Tour finals. And I just barely made the cut...I was tied for 34th with another skier and I had made it to Saturday's Finals.

Saturday, March 31st - Day 2 - World Tour Finals
Saturday I was beyond stoked. After moving to CA and becoming a Kirkwood skier nearly 6 years ago, and watching my first World Tour Finals event in the Cirque, it had always been a goal to progress to the point where I'd be able to ski on this day, in this venue. I never really thought I would, but Saturday morning, I walked around Kirkwood preparing for the day in a state of disbelief. "holy crap I was finally getting the chance to ski the Cirque!"

Here's the venue. We started way up on the lookers left shoulder of the Cirque:





I was nearly 10 points out of first place and knew in the back of my mind that I'd really have no chance of advancing into the top 10 or top 20 unless everyone started crashing, so my goal for today was just to enjoy the experience, ski a fun line, and give the crowd at the bottom something to cheer about and get stoked about at the bottom. So I picked a pretty tame line at the top that consisted of a few small airs here and there and tried to ski fast and smooth to the bottom of the venue where my largest air awaited.


Top airs coming out of the Pocket in the Cirque:



At the bottom awaited my largest air, a cliff known as "Kodak" because it gets sessioned pretty hard on powder days. But today conditions ranged from hardpack to a few inches of slush. I figured no one was going to hit Kodak today due to its size (35 - 40 ft?) and hardpack, flat landing.

The chances of sticking Kodak today and riding out of it were damn small, but again, I figured I had nothing to lose, and it would get the crowd fired up and cheering before the guys in the running started to come down. As I finished my upper run, I made a beeline for the top of Kodak, I knew by doing that I was missing out on a lot of other terrain features that I could ski well and probably score some points on, but it didn't matter. i wouldn't be able to make up enough points to really place well so Kodak just 'had to be done'. To summarize...I aired it....and exploded on impact . I landed on my feet, backslapped, popped back on my feet, but the force torqued me to the side and I rolled it and lost a ski.

Airing Kodak:

Coming into the finish:


post #18 of 22
Thanks a lot, man. That was really interesting. Great shot of air on Kodiak too, well done.
post #19 of 22
Hi davluri
As one of the “older” guys doing these comps, I think you should go for it. The more older men or women “masters” who do these events the better. That being said, it can be a difficult undertaking. I have not done any of the IFSA events until this year (IFSA is the governing body of the US Freeski Tour) There are other events like Crystal Mountain, Taos, Aspen, and a few others which may be a "little" less competitive. I think there is a masters comp in Crested Butte if there still running the event.

I did see a guy who was in his 50’s do really well at the Crystel Comp a few years ago. To be honest I think there are a lot guys out there in there early 40’s and late 30’s who could do really well in these events but they have told me they don’t want to compete. I am guessing if there were more older guys doing the events it would draw those skiers in.

As for the sport moving forward and becoming more popular. Good question. There are no teams here and the sport can seem a bit isolating for me at times. Being a bit older then the others I need to train my ass off in the off season so I don’t get injured. I remember when I did my first comp I asked some guys what they did for training they laughed at me and said “ski and get high.” I’m not sure that’s going to go over so well for TV interviews. However, I think the top guys take it a bit more serious.

Yes the comp skiers talk about being part of a supportive sport because its big mountain freeskiing, but it seems to me that it “can be” very important to fit in and not being a good skier, being to old, not getting drunk enough, not wearing the right clothes, or not asking the right questions, could leave you isolated and not wanting to return to the sport. For example it would be interesting to see what the guys over at the TGR forum would say about your post. Although there are a bunch of guys who do the comps over there and say they are supportive of people who want to compete I am guessing they wouldn’t take your post so well. The competitors in the sport can be very protective of their identity and those who threaten it are generally not accepted. They risk a lot, money, health, time, and at times their life. I think if there were more age grouped comps with juniors and masters the sport could bring on more competitors and make the sport more accessible to more people.

No matter, this is a lot for my first post, I got to run back over to the TGR board and tell them what a bunch of JONGs you guys are over here… totally kidding about that. Seriously I would love to here more about this subject.

Good Luck


Quote:
Originally Posted by davluri View Post
It's a relatively new form of skiing competition and will probably continue to evolve in some natural way. What do you skiers think of it? What are the issues around another subjectively judged ski event? (see figure skating fiascoes) How dangerous is it and is that a reasonable condition in which to compete? Is there a place for more (not too many) gates on the course? Is getting enormous air to continue to hold the place as the biggest point getter on a run? Could the sport be structured in such a way as to have a Master's class (my angle here)? What is needed to make it a better spectator sport, more media coverage, and therefore more dough? yeah! weigh in heavies in body armor, wannabies calling themselves extreme skiers, and spectators who can't believe what they are seeing alike. let's hear ya'.
post #20 of 22
Ski Dude, thanks for taking the time to post, and make some real good points there. The fact that one is not perpetually young has been embraced in many types of competition. This is clearly not one of them. At over 50, it would be a pretty tough act to follow the world class competitors, and I include the women in that group.:

As things stand, a long competitive freeskiing career means you made it into your 30s, and somehow, I don't see the sport reaching out to keep its older former participants. Finding a way to popularize the sport will involve some changes and compromises. Considering the lack of prize money and sponsors it currently draws, something is going to have to give to make it economically reasonable for the participants and to make it grow. Most of that is attracting an audience, and that really means TV and whatever it takes to make that commercially palatable. Whether those changes are tolerable to the competitors and spectators, I really don't know. It happened with the jibbing crowd, with the X-Games, so its that kind of atmosphere you need to take this to the next level financially. For most skiers, a freeskiing competition isn't even on the radar screen. Its poorly promoted, and something most skiers have never even seen happening on the mountain. Kirkwood is a great example. A relatively small group assembled in Devils Corral practically out of sight of the ski area mainstream.

Oh, and good first post jong!
post #21 of 22
Cirquerider, the welcome is much different over here for sure, so thank you.

It would be great to see the epic board take on more of a role in regards to Big Mountain Comps. I love the sport and hope to see it thrive. I’m not sure that Big Mountain Comps want to have the same kind of focus that ski racing has, but it would be cool to read and learn more about the comps over here.

Just wondering here but, if a talented freeskier took on a ski race focus would they do a Lance Armstrong on everyone? Would Big Mountain Comps be better? I don't think many freeskiers have a clear understanding of the kind of training racers put into their sport. It seems like big mountain skiing could be a lot better with a bit more racing type focus and training. However, the ski race focus may cause the big mountain comps to lose their meaning—freeskiing.

That being said sometimes the TGR board can surprise. Here is a thread on Starter Comps.


http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/s...d.php?t=102040
post #22 of 22


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski Dude View Post

Just wondering here but, if a talented freeskier took on a ski race focus would they do a Lance Armstrong on everyone? Would Big Mountain Comps be better? I don't think many freeskiers have a clear understanding of the kind of training racers put into their sport. It seems like big mountain skiing could be a lot better with a bit more racing type focus and training. However, the ski race focus may cause the big mountain comps to lose their meaning—freeskiing.
 


I've been competing a fair bit since 2008, including the Freeride World Tour (FWT) last year. Many athletes of the FWT train quite hard, there's actually not as much partying going on as one might think. Skiers at this level have a good understanding of how racers train, a lot of them come from a racing background. The main difference is that there are no national teams in freeskiing, no structure or financial support, it's usually every athlete for him or herself. The care and support racers enjoy is hugely expensive so I don't think you can really compare. New Zealand has a National Freeski Team which gets support in terms of training and lift tickets but that is the big exception.

 

The level of these comps are increasingly getting higher, especially in women's skiing. The sport is becoming more professional, largely due to such events like the FWT, which has done a lot in making big mountain skiing/riding attractive for the media, which in turn makes it more valuable for sponsors. The main goal is to get the FWT footage on TV and in print media, trying to grow it as a spectator sport is secondary.

 

To be able to compete on the FWT you basically have to be a pro. They guys have expanded to 6 stops, you have to plan 10 days per stop including travel time and a lot of costs need to be covered by the athletes themselves. It's definitely getting more professional.

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