The first stage of the Nissan Tram Face Squaw Valley USA took place today on the Silverado face with excellent conditions. 53 riders were qualified for the only North American stage of the Freeride World Tour. Swedenâ€™s Reine Barkered led a European charge on the first day which saw fellow Swede Henrik Windstedt end up in second with French athlete Aurelien Ducroz in the third spot, For the women, it was USA phenom Elyse Saugstad in first followed by Swedenâ€™s Marja Persson and Canadian athlete Jen Ashton. Snowboarding highlights included Jeremy Jones as the top man with Crested Butte, Colorado Susan Mol on top for the women as the event goes into its final day on Saturday.
Barkered surprised everyone taking first ahead of the favorites Henrik Windstedt and from France, with the most original and risky line of the day topped off with an incredible air. Squawâ€™s Cody Townsend, currently sits in fourth with just a few points from the podium.
Saugstad ended the day in first hands down with a fast run that could have competed with the men. Marja Persson from Sweden took second taking a similar line as Elyse. She was followed by Jen Ashton from Canada who went for the steepest area of the face taking third.
Jeremy Jones, the emblematic rider from Squaw Valley, mastered the terrain with a fluid line and great jumps. Jonas Emery from Switzerland took second with one of the most original lines of the day coming down the center. Xavier de Le Rue from France, Freeride World Champion 2008, opened up the one of the toughest lines of the day with complete control in his jumps.
For the women, Susan Moll, winner of the Freeride World Qualifier in Crested Butte, won again today ahead of the favorite from Germany, Aline Bock, winner of the Nissan Russian Adventure â€“ Sochi, and Charlotte Hagen from Norway.
â€œI remember skiing here 12 years ago in a t-shirt with no helmet!â€™ recalls Squawâ€™s JT Holmes. â€œNow, the faces are closed before the competition; the snow is kept intact so we can ride in excellent conditions!â€ Holmes was a favorite before a fall took him out of contention at the top of his run.
The French athlete SÃ©bastien Michaud, who currently sits in 5th was also present in Squaw Valley in 1997. Michaud started his day out with a back flip off the roof of the High Camp restaurant and finished with a spread eagle on the highest cliff of the face.
Freeride legend Shane McConkey, opened the competition as forerunner before heading to the judges tent. His perfect back flip at the top inspired SÃ©bastien Michaud and others. Shane and the head judges, Jon Orarback (ski) and Xavier Jordan (snowboard), all gave their hats off to the performances of this first day saying there were â€œmagical lines, jumps and ambiance.â€
Stay tuned for the report from the finals!