As the countdown begins for the 3rd Annual Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships at Taos from March 6-8, 2008 the mountain is in incredible shape. Taos has gotten pounded with big snowstorms this season and with over 180 inches of snowfall to date, conditions are arguably the best the resort has seen since the ‘70’s,
The Salomon Extreme Freeride Championship is one of the most anticipated stops on the North American big mountain competition circuit with more than $10,000 in cash and additional prizes on the line. As an International Free Skiers Association (IFSA) sanctioned event, the Freeride Championship is expected to attract many of the top competitors in big-mountain freeriding.
“We’re proud to be working with Jim Jack and the rest of the IFSA,” said Tom Winter, Chief of Race. IFSA President Jim Jack added, “Taos is one of my favorite stops on the North American tour. The vibe there is truly something special and the venue is world class.” Athletes are judged in five specific categories established by the IFSA; difficulty of line, aggression, fluidity, control, and style by a panel of five judges. The field is progressively cut until only the top athletes remain to compete on the final day.
Long known as a ski-only destination, Taos announced earlier this season that the resort would be welcoming snowboarders on March 19, 2008. To celebrate the change a snowboarding division has been added to the Freeride Championship and some of the world’s best riders have been invited for a sneak preview of Taos’ infamous terrain.
“We are excited to add the snowboarding division to this event,” said Alejandro Blake, TSV Special Events Coordinator. “Including snowboarding was a no-brainer,” added Winter, “All the big-mountain freeriding events that I’ve been involved with in the past have included snowboarding. The camaraderie between the athletes, regardless of what tools they choose to compete with, has been amazing. We look forward to continuing that at Taos Ski Valley.”
Last year’s event began with two days in Taos’ notorious West Basin Ridge, cold wind and blowing snow made for extreme blizzard conditions. Day three unfolded under sunny skies on the daunting cliff bands of Taos’ famed Kachina Peak, which at 12,481 feet, it is the highest ISFA venue in North America. The Peak is especially challenging for competitors because they have to make the 45-minute hike up the ridge for each run.
For spectators the location is ideal, with all the rowdiest terrain at the bottom of the Kachina Basin, some of the most intense action unfolds directly in front of the crowds. Last season over 1300 people watched all or part of the three-day competition and joined in the related festivities, making it the biggest skiing event in New Mexico.
“In this competition they ski lines that I have never seen skied. That’s what big-mountain comps are all about, athletes pushing themselves to the limits of their ability and fortitude and challenging the mountain.” said Alejandro Blake.
Registration for the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships at Taos is still open. Space is limited to 130 entries. For more information about the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships, or to register as a competitor go to www.skitaos.org/freeride or e-mail Alejandro at [email protected]. Check the TSV web-site at skitaos.org or call 575-776-2291for great deals and a current calendar of events. For travel and hotel arrangements contact Southern Rockies Reservations at 866-250-7313.