Byron "The Lobster" Wells in the sights of all the photographers.
The Dumont Cup, the namesake event of the superstar skier, officially got underway today in Sunday River, Maine. Under conditions that can only be described as "in and out," over 70 potential qualifiers took to the battlefield in hopes of making it to tomorrow's semi-final round. In the expanded 2011 Dumont Cup course, the judges and invited athletes sure had their work cut out for them in picking 26 qualifiers.
Is that Oscar Wester? Sure is.
Unlike the majority of events out there where potential qualifying athletes get two or three runs in which to showcase their wares, Simon has chosen to do things differently. By hosting two, two-hour jam session heats, each athlete gets a lions share of runs in which to impress the judges. No more shaky nerves at the start gate. No more 45 minute practices at 8 am. Only jam session bliss for Dumont Cup attendees. To get to hit the course longer and to ski around with some of the best in the industry, well that makes for a much more enjoyable day.
As mentioned earlier, the weather was in and out. Which means exactly that. The sun was in. Then it was out. The wind would gust. Then it wouldn't. The snow would fall. And then it wouldn't. You get the picture. But the beauty of the jam session format shined through… if the wind made it sketchy, just take another lap. No big deal. If you deserve to be in semi-finals, you'll get there.
Big boss Nick Goepper.
The field was stacked with kids of all ages, and all ability levels. From unknowns coming out of the woodwork out east to solid up-and-comers like Nick Goepper to full blown film stars like LJ Strenio. Also lapping the course with the kids were the invited athletes (who are already in semi-finals). Guys like Phil Casabon, Henrik Harlaut, Gus Kenworthy, Jossi Wells and Alex Schlopy (to name a few) were in attendance. The beats from the Red Bull WWII era truck were pumping and the voice of the one and only Luke Van Valin wafted through the East Coast air, informing all the spectators of the action at hand.
Simon amidst bib-giving for today's qualifiers.
With the weather decent most of the time, the tunes on 11, LVV's voice cuttin' things up and the three-rail, three-jump course primed to go, the action was non-stop all day. While the fair share of straight airs were being used, there was no lack of action. Switch double 1080s, double cork 1080/1260s, switch misty 900s, et al. You name it, it was probably thrown today. The corked 720 tail grab probably won for most popular trick of the day today. Even the little groms were dropping bombs all day, in hopes of getting noticed by the judges, or at least Jossi Wells.
The sun did come out, for most of the day.
When the dust had settled after the collective four hours of jamming out, the judges trimmed the fat from 70+ to 26 skiers, who will do battle tomorrow morning with another 20-or-so pre-qualified athletes. Last year's podium however (Alex Schlopy, Joss Christensen, Tom Wallisch) is qualified straight through to finals. Check out the list of who made it through today's contest, the chosen few who will suit up once again, in hopes of grabbing that $14,000+ in cash and prizes that the first place winner gets.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the recap and photos of what goes down during tomorrow's semis and finals. There will also be a live feed, Freeskier.com/DumontCup, so if you've got the time, sit down and check that out as well. Finals start at 1:30 PM EST.
Simon Dumont and Jossi Wells.
Qualifying athletes (By heat, alphabetically):
Simon giving out some nice swag for the kids.