March 3, 2013

Crested Butte Invades Taos For FWT Qualifier

Francesca Pavillard-Cain on the podium. Trent Bona Photography

photo: Trent Bona Photography |

This past weekend, around twenty Crested Buttians (including the WSCU Mountain Sports Team) invaded Taos Ski Valley to take part in the four star Freeride World Tour Qualifier.  Expectations were high, as last year’s podium was swept by Crested Butte athletes.  The event consisted of two days in the West Basin, and finals on the famed Kachina Peak, with all three days counting towards the overall score.

Competitors inspecting the venue. Trent Bona Photography

Competitors inspecting the venue. Trent Bona Photography

Day one in the West Basin proved to be a tougher task than expected.  Many of the usual suspects, including last year’s podium finishers Ashley Bembenek, Rob Dickinson, and Tom Runcie went down.  However, Francesca Pavillard-Cain impressed the judges enough to establish a nearly two-point lead over the rest of the ladies field.  Ciera Glen and Kaytlin Hughes skied strong enough to crack the top five.  On the men’s side, Brandon Clabaugh executed a large double in exposed terrain to take fourth place.

Day two took place on the same venue, and while competitors were able to ski the same lines, the more creative riders stood out by adding new variations to their runs, or skiing entirely different runs altogether.  Crested Butte native Caleb Mullen laid down a smooth big double drop to jump into the top ten.  Brandon Clabaugh skied a new line in the Bamboo nose that bumped him into third.  Pavillard-Cain skied conservatively, but maintained her comfortable lead.

The finals brought sunny skies and fast skiing.  Alex Reidman kicked things off for the Crested Butte ladies by laying down a solid run that got her 7th overall.  Kaitlyn Hughes ripped her line, which included an enormous stomped air in the middle section.  However, a hip-check at the bottom of her run caused her to finish 6th.  Ciera Glen, who was tied for 2nd going into her final run, skied conservatively and was edged out of the podium by Hazel Birmbaum-Wilson and Sasha Dingle.  Dingle won the day with a high-octane run that was punctuated by a large air at the bottom of the venue, to the delight of the crowd.  In the end, Pavillard-Cain was able to coast to a comfortable victory from her day one score.

Caleb Mullen sending the line of the day. Trent Bona Photography

Caleb Mullen sending the line of the day. Trent Bona Photography

In the men’s division, Jack Weise and Kevin Adams capped off their solid competition weekend with fast runs that set the tone for a great final.  Caleb Mullen essentially double dropped half of the venue in Dahlbredines, the highest scoring area.  Mullen fluidly flashed the exposed top section, before stomping a forty-foot cliff linked with an air that travelled fifty feet down the hill.  It would have won the day, but a large back-slap on the second landing held him to fourth place overall.   Brandon Clabaugh won the day for the men by stomping a large double in skiers right side of Dahlbredines, then landing a flat 360 off of the Red Bull moneybooter (a maneuver that won him a trip to Red Bull Flutag in March).

Eighteen-year-old Ian Borgeson out of Arapahoe Basin won the event.   Keep an eye out for this rising star, who can ski big mountain and park with the best skiers in the world.  Borgeson’s day two run consisted of a forty foot air in the exposed top section, a fifteen foot air into the middle chute, and an enormous cork 360 off the bottom rock, all stomped in between the fastest skiing of the day.  Borgeson maintained his lead in finals by flashing the top section and then soaring fifty feet down the mountain to punctuate a dominant weekend.

After awards, competitors enjoyed an after-party featuring Zion I.  Despite being small and decently isolated, there are ample options for night entertainment at Taos Ski Valley.  The next day, we drove home via Route 114, which allowed us to stop by the hot springs north of Taos, in addition to driving a more scenic route.

Overall, it was a great trip.  Taos always seems to provide a good time.  Thanks to Hano Blake and Taos Ski Valley for putting on an awesome event.  Check back for more photos and video highlights.  For full results, click here


About the Author

1. Ed Dujardin
After moving out west for college, Ed took summer school so he could spend winters in Crested Butte. These days, he coaches the Western State Colorado University Freeride Team, and spends as much time as he can fishing the incredible rivers of the area.