Competition begins at The Paul Mitchell Big Bear Open!
Greetings from sunny Souther California, we’re here at the Big Bear Open, hosted by Bear Mountain and Paul Mitchell. Today was the official start of the competition, with Superpipe qualifying during the day and finals being held under the lights. For those of you who don’t know, Bear Mountain, looks just like the way it is illustrated in the video game Amped 2, with around 180 jibs, rails and jumps blanketing the mountain from top-to-bottom. However, the downside being that it draws about a million tourists from the Los Angeles area, most of whom will run you down in the lift line. Despite the excessive amount of weekend warriors, the competition went off without a major hitch.
With mixed feelings on the quality and condition of the Superpipe, most competitors were throwing down safety runs, hoping it would be enough to make it to finals, where they could really show their talents. Near misses included Scott Hibbert, who skied despite a calf injury, Michael Clarke, who couldn’t quite get used to the pipe, and Josh Bibby who was under intense emotional scrutiny after close friend Tim Russell broke his hand earlier in the day. In the end, it was Taylor Seaton, who managed the biggest airs of the afternoon qualifying first, while Charlie Lasser moved on in 2nd place overall.
As for the women, the field wasn’t as large, but the skiing was as good as we’ve seen all season. Australia’s Stephanie Sirianni qualified first, with Breckenridge’s Keri Herman following and New Zealand import Pip Simmonds sliding into the 3rd qualifying slot.
After a great day under the sun, the Superpipe finals moved under the lights; and with nighttime, the temperatures dropped, making the pipe much faster for the athletes. Competitors were also treated to an extraordinary start gate; I suppose gone are the days of just PVC and banners. Here at Bear Mountain, the organizers set up fog machines, movie lights and fans, making our 17 finalists feel like quite the rock stars dropping in.
Taylor Seaton continued his dominance on the men’s side, with huge airs and solid style. Nike’s Tucker Perkins, who skied well all day, held it together in his final run to find himself in 2nd place, while Jon Marks, barely managing finals through the Last Chance Qualifier, stunned the crowd with large airs and technical skill to land him in 3rd. Taylor Felton and Patrick Baskins styled out their runs, finishing 4th and 5th respectively. Unfortunately, Charlie Lasser and Casey Kruger crashed in the first run and could not start for their 2nd. On the women’s side, Keri Herman pulled out right and left spins to steal the top spot away from Stephanie Sirianni, whose switch hits landed her in 2nd, with Jill Sweeney rounding out the podium.
With an energetic crowd, some sick beats from the DJ, and Rex Thomas’ announcing antics to compliment the skiing, Day 1 of the Big Bear Open has come to a successful close. Hopefully the sun will be out in full force again for the slopestyle half of the competition; and with more competitors and an extremely technically oriented course, tomorrow is shaping up to be another great day.
1) Taylor Seaton
2) Tucker Perkins
3) Jon Marks
4) Taylor Felton
5) Patrick Baskins
6) Duncan Adams
7) Ian Cosco
8) Jon Cyrulik
9) Jack Sullan
10) Jimmy Greenleaf
1) Keri Herman
2) Stephanie Sirianni
3) Jill Sweeney
4) Pip Simmonds
5) Katie Jane Souza
About the author:
Shay Williams is the Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He loves cheeseburgers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sweden. He's likely on a plane right now—first class only.