Augustin and Falck-Pedersen Lead Taos Qualifying Day.

Augustin and Falck-Pedersen Lead Taos Qualifying Day.

Local skier Joe Augustin laid down a blazing qualifying run on the opening day of the 2009 Salomon Extreme Freeriding Championships to lead the pack at Taos, New Mexico. Augustin, who rides for Dynastar, Look and Lange, led the field with a score of 8.9. He was closely followed by Squaw Valley, California athlete Chuck Mumford and last year’s Parillo Loco (sick bird) winner Abbot Smith, in third place.

The women were led by Karine Falck-Pedersen, followed by Michelle Gimitro and Alex Klein. Falck-Pedersen, also from Squaw Valley represents Helly Hansen, Kastle, Kask, Technica and POC.

The JR divisions for under 18 athletes were led by Colorado athletes Kelsey Bohanon and Michael Martina. Bohanon skis out of Aspen/Snowmass, with Martina out of Winter Park.

For qualifying day, the event was moved from the traditional West Basin venue to the hike-to Kachina Peak. Topping out at an elevation of 12,481 feet, Kachina Peak is one of the highest venues on the Freeride World Tour Qualifing (FWTQ) circuit, which includes a global array of events in locations from Italy (Winter Mystic Xperience Monterosa), France (Freeride de Chamonix-Mont-Blanc) and Slovakia (Jasna Adrenalin

As one of the qualifying events for for the FWT, the Salomon Extreme Freeriding Championship allows athletes to gain points and become eligible to compete in the Freeride World Tour (FWT) four showcase events: The Nissan Russian Adventure (Sochi, Russia), Nissan Tram Face (Squaw Valley, USA), Nissan Freeride de Tignes (Tignes, France) and Nissan Xtreme (Verbier, Switzerland).

Yesterday’s qualifying day allows athletes to advance to the final two days of the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships, where they will compete against both the mountain, as the competition moves to more difficult venues, and an elite group of athletes who received “byes” on the first day of the competition.

Currently the event is on hold as a fast moving storm is bringing snow to Taos, reducing visibility but also greatly improving snow conditions for the athletes. The competition is expected to resume tomorrow, with organizers looking to move the venue to West Basin and give athletes two runs.

To learn more about this event or to see results from past competitions, please visit skitaos.org/freeride. To learn more about the Freeride World Tour, check out freerideworldtour.com.

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