One month ago, the world’s best slopestyle skiers dropped into the X Games course on Buttermilk Mountain. Some considered it the best X Games course ever constructed. Today, thirty aspiring pros—and a few established pros, too, some of whom even competed at X—dropped into the same course (albeit minus a few of the X Games’ extravagant rail setups), this time as part of the Aspen/Snowmass Freeskiing Open.
Currently the highest rated Gold Level event on the AFP calendar, the Aspen Open has drawn high-caliber talent from across the country since its inception in 2005. While AFP points and prize money are enticing—so too is the pleasure of competing at an open event—the Aspen Open is special first and foremost because it allows skiers to test their skills on skiing’s ultimate slopestyle venue.
Earlier in the week, one-hundred men competed for one of thirty spots in the semifinal. This morning, the thirty who advanced had two runs each to stomp a clean run (best run counts ), with the top 12 earning a spot in the final. The 12 finalists on the men’s side joined 12 pre-qualified women for an afternoon filled with impressive runs.
On the men’s side, Aspen local Matt Walker took third, with Quebec’s Alex Beaulieu-Marchand (ABM) stepping onto the podium in second. It was not surprising to see ABM and Walker place well, as both competed at X Games this year. Taking the top spot today, and the $5,000 that go along with it, was 15-year-old Willie Borm of Minnesota. For the women, Idaho’s Alexi Micinski took third while Park City’s Jamie Crane-Mauzy finished second. Twenty-four-year-old Emma Whitman of Whistler, BC topped the podium, walking away with a cool $1,500.
Aspen Open Slopestyle 2013: Speaking with Matt Walker and Willie Borm
Walker’s third place run consisted of a backside switch-up on the flat-down rail; a left blind 450 off the down-tube; a switch right 9 tail; right 9 tail; switch left 9 tail and a left double cork 12 opposite mute. Walker was awarded an 89.1 and $1,500.
On his way to a 90.5, ABM stomped a backside 360 switch-up on the flat-down; a switch tails-over 270 onto the down bar; a switch left 9 high mute on jump one; right 9 tail; switch left double flat 9 bow and arrow and a left double cork 720 safety. ABM walked away with $2,500 today. Not bad, considering the man came here “just to have fun,” he said after the event. “These jumps are so good, I just wanted to come back here after X Games and get some more time in on them. It’s great jump training.”
And topping the field today was Willie Borm—a name we’ve heard circulating for a number of years. All the more impressive when you consider his tender age of 15. While he’s been hanging low on the radar up ’til now, Willie’s first place finish today puts him on the map in a big way. En route to the top of the podium, Borm linked a run consisting of a front switch-up to backside 270 out on the flat-down rail; a 270 on to the down rail; misty 630 japan off the cannon box; right 900 leading mute; switch left double flat 9 and a left double cork 12 high mute to close. Certainly worthy of his 90.8.
Just missing the podium was Canadian Noah Morrison. Behind him in the standings were Ethan Swadburg, Robby Franco, McRae Williams, Mark Nowakiwsky, Nicky Keefer and Mitchell Gilman.
“It’s one of the greatest open events in freeskiing without question,” said Steele Spence of the AFP. “This year, 100 men took to the slopestyle course. The level of competition is one of the highest you’ll ever see at an open comp. It’s one of the biggest courses… Anyone who ends up in the top 30 here, that’s an extremely impressive result… something these guys can be proud of, for sure.”
Aspen Open Slopestyle 2013: Speaking with Emma Whitman
Switching to the women, Alexi Micinski’s third place run consisted of a clean rail section up top, a left cork 720 mute, right 3 mute, left 360 tail and a left 540 mute to close. Micinski bagged an 84.3 and a $300 prize.
Second place finisher Jamie Crane-Mauzy earned $750 and a score of 87.3 for her run consisting of a left 270 onto the flat box; a ride over the rainbow rail, right 360 mute, flat 360 japan, left 360 safety and a hefty double backflip on the money booter—a stunt many men may hesitate to throw.
Taking the top spot was Whistler’s Emma Whitman, who went cleanly through the first two rails and linked with a backside 270 out of the cannon, a right 3 safety, left cork 7 tail and a left cork 9 to cap it off. Whitman garnered an even 89 for her efforts.
Congratulations go out to all of the finalists—’twas a great showing this afternoon. We’re looking forward to another fun day at Buttermilk tomorrow, with superpipe qualifiers and finals on the docket. Snow is expected to accumulate overnight, we’re hopeful it won’t create too much trouble for the athletes.
2013 Aspen/Snowmass Freeskiing Open Slopestyle Results
Men’s Top 10:
1. Willie Borm
2. Alex Beaulieu-Marchand
3. Matt Walker
4. Noah Morrison
5. Ethan Swadburg
6. Robby Franco
7. McRae Williams
8. Mark Nowakiwsky
9. Nicky Keefer
10. Mitchell Gilman
Women’s Top 10:
1. Emma Whitman
2. Jamie Crane-Mauzy
3. Alexi Micinski
4. Maggie Voisin
5. Taylor Lundquist
6. Nikki Blackall
7. Julia Krass
8. Julia Marino
9. Iku Suzuki
10. Annalisa Drew