Archive for March, 2013

Following a week in Montana, I hit the road with Chubbiesssss on the 15 hour journey to Taos, New Mexico for the Salomon Freeride 4 star WFQT snowboarding event.  It was the second and last major WFQT event for US snowboarders attempting to qualify for the 2014 World Freeride Tour.  I was seeded second going into the event behind Ruari Macfarlane, so my plan was to ride strategically ensuring another top 10 result rather than attempting to ride straight for the podium.

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The journey south.

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Taos!

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Scoping the qualifying venue at Taos.


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Coach Chubbiesssss.

I chose a different and less technical line on the first day in comparison to the lines that I thought most riders would take. ¬†None of the other riders followed this exact line, but because I didn’t incorporate any spins into my line, it wasn’t quite burly enough and had one slight bobble after a cliff drop, I ended up in 8th but just 1.3 points off of first place.

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Finding some of the only fresh snow on the middle of my line day 1.  Photo: Tess Carney

Heading into the second day I wanted to pick a more aesthetic line, one of which happened to remain fresh after 140 competitors rode the venue on day 1.  The untouched spine on the shorter but more rugged half of the venue was perfect and was located over critical exposure fall line and to either side.  I rode the spine confidently, but punched through the sun baked snow on a cliff below resulting in a quick tomahawk.  I figured this would have been the end game for me, but I ended up with enough points to qualify for the finals venue in 13th place.

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Scoping the finals venue, Kachina Peak (12,500 ft).


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Finals day. ¬†My line was down the slightly tree’d spine on the lookers right.

By this point I was a bit disappointed with my results so far and had nothing to lose. ¬†The finals venue was massive and had many options to show your riding style. ¬†Given the opportunity to send and the small amount of difference in points to achieve a top 5 result, I knew it would be possible to move up if I got one of the highest scores of the day. ¬†Rather than ride an ‘extreme line’ I decided to play the freestyle game from top to bottom as this seemed to score well with the judges in previous days.

I started off my run with a cab 540 indie off the top cornice.  I did a couple of open face turns, then took it into a frontside (almost corked) 360 off a wind lip.  This led me into the main spine which I rode a bit too slow for my liking, but came out with a straight air off a cliff and a backside 360 tail off the final Red Bull booter.  Check out some photos of my run by Dave Watson.

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Cab 5. Photo: Dave Watson.

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Shredding slow. Photo: Dave Watson.

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Indie. Photo: Dave Watson.

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Backside 360 tail. Photo: Dave Watson.

I rode my run fairly flawlessly and was met by a riotous crowd at the bottom of the venue.  My hands and knees were shaking!  Fortunately I got to watch all the other riders come down and many guys were pushing it.  The stand out was definitely Jessie Maddox but his fall after a heavy double drop cost him what was most likely line of the day.  The rest of the day was full of stoke, beers and shakas as we watched the skiers take it to another level as always.

At the awards I was extremely surprised to hear my name called up to the front for a fourth place finish and a small cheque.  My finals run was the highest scoring of the day and it was enough to take me from 13th into 4th, a serious power move.  On the podium included new friends, Chris Galvin in 3rd, Brian Bozack in 2nd and local Jim Bobb in 1st.  I had competed with Chris and Brian in the North Face Masters and they have since carried onto Europe to try and pick up more WFQT points in order to qualify for the 2014 WFT.  As it stands currently, I am in the top seed for US riders, but these guys definitely have the talent to earn enough points to qualify above me.

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Results.  4th place finish with top line score from Day 3, Kachina Peak.  

Following the event I hit the road south and east, a strange direction for snowboarders in New Mexico.  The trip was a trip.  It included visiting Earthships Рwhich are amazing, trains, a 15 hour greyhound bus ride, an amazing family visit to Oklahoma/Kansas and an eventual flight out of Missouri a week later.  After one month on the road and lots of miles since leaving NZ for Japan in December, I was ready for a rest!

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Earthships!!!

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All points lead South.

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The wall paper in the Anarchist Cafe, a must stop for any desert venturer.

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Uncle Wes and Aunt Les’s chariot North!¬†

Following the epic drive from California to Montana I was due for a week of rest and recovery. ¬†Although that R&R didn’t really occur, I did manage to have an absolute blast with some old friends based out of Bozeman, Montana. ¬†Fortunately old man winter cooperated and loaded the mountains with fresh snow. ¬†Here are a few shots from my Instagram feed from the trip.

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Yellowstone Valley biodiversity 

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Lots of tea time on Black Street

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Oak Ohlson on the ridge

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Buck giving it some

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Oak Ohlson in the Bridger Backyard

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Chubiesssss outside the Sackery

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Ants on a ridge

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Chuck & Buck, sketchy white vans….


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Some of the posse – Dingle, Buck, Ohlson

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Oak Ohlson ghost riding the whip

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AkBuckBuck amidst the powder

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Oak having his way with Shorties on the Ridge

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Saddle Peak on a windy day. ¬†If you look close enough you will see some fool hiking….



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The master backpack craftsman, Alex Buck in the Buck Products Headquarters.  Grab yourself a custom Knapp Sack here!