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Kirkwood North American Freeride Championships.....history?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Rumors floating around this week that the annual Kirkwood big-mountain comp, the IFSA North American Freeride Championships will not be happening at Kirkwood this year.

Seem as though last minute talks to settle on a date for the comp between KW and the organizers have gone nowhere, and the comp will most likely happen at another mountain this year.

Rumors are that Crested Butte will replace KW on the IFSA tour, but this would mean that competitors who are doing the entire tour will now have to travel from Telluride, CO to Squaw Vally, CA then back to Crested Butte in a very short time frame. Plus KW's Cirque is just such a great venue to hold a comp...it's truly a shame.

Kirkwood is having to have a local freeride competition on March 9th. But this is just a one-day event to be held on Lookout Vista (normal in-bounds terrain) and it will not be affiliated with any organized tour.

I'm totally bummed about this. Hopefully things will come together and the comp can go on and KW, but it's not looking to good right now.
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 
It is official...Crested Butte has replaced Kirkwood this year as a tour stop. Here is the press release:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MOUNTAIN SPORTS INTERNATIONAL EXPANDS 2008 SUBARU U.S. FREESKIING SERIES WITH EVENTS AT ALYESKA, ALASKA, AND CRESTED BUTTE, COLORADO

Official 2008 Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series and Freeskiing World Tour competition schedules announced


Salt Lake City UT, December 27, 2007—Blazing into its third year, the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series (USFS) and Freeskiing World Tour (FWT) have become the largest cohesive competitive Big Mountain Freeskiing tours in the history of the sport, with the Subaru USFS featuring an unprecedented six stops. With two new locations added to the already impressive roll-call of resorts, both tours culminate at the ultimate big mountain competition venue of Alyeska Resort, Alaska, in April.

With registration for the Subaru USFS once again selling out in mere hours (Crested Butte registration to open in early January), anticipation mounts as sponsors, athletes, media and fans look forward to the 2008 calendar.

"The 2008 tour schedule is the most impressive I've ever seen," said veteran athlete and tour champion Drew Tabke, "I'm really happy to be going back to Squaw Valley, and I’m thrilled that MSI has lined up the Alyeska, Alaska, finals. That really tops it off. This is going to be a huge year for the sport of competitive Freeskiing!"

The Subaru USFS continues to bring fierce competition to the best Big Mountain Freeskiing resorts in North America. The 2008 season will include the Subaru U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships at Crested Butte, CO. A longstanding and well-known event, this will be the official stop on both the Subaru USFS as well as the FWT. Eric “H” Baumm, CBMR On-Mountain Events Director, is thrilled to join forces with MSI for a stop on the tour: "We are so excited to be a part of the U.S. Series and the World Tour. Crested Butte will be a great place to showcase this event and the athletes that make these competitions so unique." The USFS, which is owned and operated by sports marketing and promotions company Mountain Sports International (MSI) and sanctioned by the International Freeskiers Association (IFSA), now boasts a bigger prize purse than ever before at over $100,000 cash.

Continuing to support the USFS is title sponsor Subaru of America. "Subaru has a long history of supporting organizations and events that resonate with our customers, like the 2008 Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series and Freeskiing World Tour competitions," said Tim Mahoney, Senior Vice President and CMO of Subaru of America, Inc. "The expansion of the Freeskiing Series this year is a big compliment to the outstanding job that Mountain Sports International does in producing the tour."

Behind the scenes, the staff at MSI is looking forward to the best year yet. "We are so excited about the 2008 Subaru USFS," said MSI Winter Sports Director, Dak Williams. "MSI has worked very hard to establish the new stop at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, the location for the 2008 World Championships in April. After receiving extremely positive feedback from the 2007 Tour, we will also see more support from our additional world class resort partners." Williams also extended his enthusiasm to the spectators: "We would like to invite everyone to come out and watch the best of the best in big mountain freeskiing battle for the title of USFS Champion and FWT Champion."

The newly redesigned USfreeskiing.com website will go live in a matter of weeks. New features include a "Community" section similar in format to myspace.com, where athletes will be able to create personal profile pages, as well as post photos and videos. Also look forward to completely new navigation and site design, making it fun and simple to access the world's best Freeskiing videos, photos, and stories.

Stay tuned as the 2008 Subaru U.S. Freeskiing and Freeskiing World Tour unfold. It’s stacked up to be the best season yet!


2008 SUBARU U.S. Freeskiing Series & Freeskiing World Tour SCHEDULE

Stop 1: Subaru Telluride Freeskiing Open, Telluride CO, February 7-10

Stop 2: Subaru Squaw Valley Freeskiing Open, Squaw Valley, CA, February 14-17

Stop 3: Subaru U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships, Crested Butte, CO, February 19-23 (World Tour #1)

Stop 4: Subaru Jackson Hole Freeskiing Open, Jackson Hole, WY, March 13-16

Stop 5: Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals, Snowbird, UT, March 18-23 (World Tour #2)

Stop 6: Subaru Freeskiing World Championships and Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Series Finals, Alyeska, AK, April 9-13 (World Tour #3)
post #3 of 11
Wow, it doesn't look like they're looking back at all. Just establishing a new venue and moving on.

Any glimpse in your neck of the woods for them to reconsider this in the future scheduling?
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post

Any glimpse in your neck of the woods for them to reconsider this in the future scheduling?
Not sure what the heck is going on. Lots of rumors floating around as to why the bottom fell through this year...some people blaming Kirkwood....some people blaming the organizers of the tour, MSI. Like anything else, the blame probably falls somewhere in the middle, but it leaves a lot of folks scratching their heads as to what the heck happened. Perhaps some light will be shed on it down the road.

Kirkwood IS going to have a VERY small big mountain comp (small when compared to what's gone down in the Cirque in previous years) of their own this year in early March (3/9). It won't be held in the famed Cirque however and seems like it will be waaay watered down. We'll see how it goes......
post #5 of 11
I gotta think it has something to do with $$$. If I'm not mistaken, Crested Butte has quie a bit of it.
post #6 of 11
This is a real shame, but are you honestly surprised? Kirkwood did very little to promote the IFSW championship series, and the venue itself was easy to reach, but had fairly small turnout of spectators. The Cirque was skiing big last year in a low snowfall year, and this year is stacking up to be similar so far.

FWIW, I don't see Kirkwood marketing itself as an extreme skier's playground, but is focusing on the family experience and wide mix of intermediate terrain that it has. This sells real estate, hotel rooms, and expensive meals. The recent approval of the master plan with lift expansions, restaurants and real estate point to the resort targeting a clientele that sleeps in expensive hotels instead of the back of cars; and that uses the Expedition Cat tours instead of hiking. That writing has been on the wall for years. While the very challenging terrain will always be a part of KW, Lets face it, the rad "ski bum" is out. Kirkwood wants to be North Star with good terrain.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirquerider View Post

FWIW, I don't see Kirkwood marketing itself as an extreme skier's playground, but is focusing on the family experience and wide mix of intermediate terrain that it has. This sells real estate, hotel rooms, and expensive meals. The recent approval of the master plan with lift expansions, restaurants and real estate point to the resort targeting a clientele that sleeps in expensive hotels instead of the back of cars; and that uses the Expedition Cat tours instead of hiking. That writing has been on the wall for years. While the very challenging terrain will always be a part of KW, Lets face it, the rad "ski bum" is out. Kirkwood wants to be North Star with good terrain.
all true.

I've only been skiing at Kirkwood for the past 6 years. But in this short amount of time it's very easy to see that what you said above is accurate.

the crazy thing is....i never thought that Kirkwood really had all that much intermediate terrain to offer the clientele of which you speak above. Case in point....I have a few friends and friends of friends that could be lumped into the 'intermediate' bucket. All of them hate Kirkwood because they feel the terrain overall is just over their heads. On the frontside, all they really have is chair 5 and chair 11....each offering what....a whopping 800 vert? Is it even a thousand? then there's the backside and Chair 4....which was once described as the 'longest, slowest coldest lift in the Sierra' in a past Powder Magazine article. Plus Chair 4 is currently kind of a pain to get to if you're not the type to take the 'long way' out there and having fun off the Wall / Eagle Bowl / Norm's / Lower Cirque on your way to Chair 2. and then there's Chair 7 which is really just beginner and learning terrain.

Plus the grooming at KW is generally horrible IMO (which obviously isn't why I go there, but i like to rail fresh cordoroy just as much as the next person).

it's not yet clear why the comp has been dropped.....again, there is finger pointing on both sides, and according to some sources KW did as much as they could to get the comp to come back to town, but some last minute changes & requests by the organizers threw everything for a loop. Who knows.

After talking with lots of folks though, it's generally seen by everyone as a lose-lose-lose situation. The organizers lose a marquee venue that has some long-standing tradition and history within their tour, kirkwood loses the recognition and marketing opportunities behind it regardless of what their montly condo sales quota might be, and the competitors lose because they (we) lose the chance to compete on one of the most highly revered, challenging, and FUN venues around.

I guess Crested Butte could be viewed as a winner in this situation as they've replaced KW as a World Tour stop, but all they are doing is rolling over their existing independent comp (which to its credit is the longest running big mountain comp around and thus probably has the most history of any individual comp) into MSI's tour. It's not as though something new is being created for them to fully capitalize on.
post #8 of 11
I did manage to record the Hi-Def feature of the Kirkwood IFSA championship from last year if you want to see it. Great show that underscores how difficult and big the Cirque skis. I'll miss seeing the championship and what it brought to the area.

Kirkwood is 10 years behind when it comes to serving up its terrain to intermediates. That delay was the cost of their location and lawsuits that prevented implementation of the master plan. The priority that was put into authorizing and constructing winch cat access to the summit of #6 and #10, (which made those lines accessible to high intermediate and advanced skiers) and building the quad and lodge at Timber Creek illustrates where the priorities lie.

With the plan approval, the old slow lifts are going to change rapidly, probably starting next season. The Emigrant Basin project will access Covered Wagon, Lookout Vista, Thimble Peak and Red Cliffs; the upgrade of the existing Sunrise quad chairlift to a high speed detachable chair; increased on-mountain dining options; and a new lift originating from the Mountain Village to Caples Crest, will reduce access time to Emigrant Basin by over 50 percent. Lower level resort skiers will be able to by pass the flat antique Lift #1 without requiring a descent of the Wall or Eagle Bowl (of course you can already get to #2 via chair #11). Providing a lodge at Caples Crest will make the back side a place a person can spend the whole day. Fortunately Lift #10 will not ever change to high speed. Ironically, the new Thimble Peak chair will provide great access to the Cirque if it is opened. This is a map of the proposed lifts and runs: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/doc...e_2-2_alt2.pdf

I just don't see the recent approval of the master plan, and the apparent willingness to lose the IFSA Championship as a coincidence. Kirkwood is going to grow faster and bigger than I imagined, and having their own competition rather than the international series probably doesn't help or hurt those plans. I think it was just not a priority, and when the ski area was asked for increased support, they probably balked just long enough to lose the series to CB.
post #9 of 11
Kirkwood has great terrain for those who really want to connect with the alpine environment. It's a shame that they want to try to homogenize it for a clientele that's really not their core. Truly missing the unique character of the mountain.
post #10 of 11
SSH - That's what people say about Stowe too.

The truth is Mt Mansfield will always be Mt Mansfield regardless of what you do in the base village. I suspect Kirkwood will always be Kirkwood.
post #11 of 11
I get your point, epic. I was just trying to suggest that they build on their strengths...
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