March 24, 2016

Crystal 4* FWQ BLOG and VIDEO from Rob Vandervoort


The FWQ 4-star event Crystal went down last week with Crested Butte’s own Mark Mikos and Ashley Bembenek winning the Men Ski and Women Ski titles!  Rob Vandervoort was there laying it down on his snowboard and was able to take 7th.  Our own Ed Dujardin went down hard with a broken femur but is stable and has started the long road back to full recovery. Check out the words and video from Rob Vandervoort below:

Above Photo: Griffin Dunne

The Pacific Northwest delivered the goods for the Freeride World Qualifier 2016 event at Crystal Mountain Resort last week. For most of the week prior to the competition, during inspection, and during both qualifier days it snowed.

After a long drive from Crested Butte through Utah, Idaho, and Oregon (with a quick shred break at Snow Basin) I reached Crystal Saturday, March 12. Inspections were Monday, and qualifiers were Tuesday and Wednesday. They split the fields with snowboarders riding the first day and skiers the next. The top qualifiers for the day in each field were Kiana Putman (Snowboard Women), Davey Baird (Snowboard Men), Andrea Byrne (Ski Women), and Mark Mikos (Ski Men).

The clouds and wind and snow finally broke up for the Finals, leaving way for a bluebird powder day. the Finals were held Thursday on the Silver King, a large hike-to venue on the edge of the ski area, The King is a true freeride venue. It is about 1,000 vertical feet of large cliffs and spines. It is steep and intimidating.

The Snowboard Women charged big powder lines, jumping off the cornice, various cliffs, and pioneering lines through the tree maze at the bottom. Audrey Hebert moved up from 2nd to 1st. The Snowboard Men showed more of the same style of riding, lots of cornice drops and cliffs, and following the ladies lead through the tree maze. Davey Baird continued to shine and easily won the competition,

The standout line of the day was performed by a skier named Rachel Croft. Without hesitation Croft dropped into a narrow straight line choke between two large cliffs and slashed a turn down a spine through more rocks. It was a movie line. Though it wasn’t enough to over take the other girls’ leads from day 1, she did earn the ‘Excellante Award’ (Crystals version of a spirit award). Crested Butte’s Ashley Bembenek managed to jump two spots from 3rd to 1st.

Benbenek’s fiance, Mark Mikos, came into the day with a two point lead on the rest of the field. There were some incredible runs throughout the day. However, nobody was able to top Mikos, who greased a fast, fluid line through heavy exposure that finished with a sizable 20 foot air into the finish corral for the win.

The day was beautiful, the snow was great, and the skiing was world class. There was one notable injury to our own Ed Dujardin, who is now recovering from a broken femur. We wish Ed the best in his recovery and anticipate shredding with him again very soon. Thanks to Crystal Mountain Resort, The CMR Ski Patrol, the IFSA, Chuck White, the judges, and all of the crew who put so much effort into this event. The last FWQ 4 star of the 2016 season will take place next weekend at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Get more info and video highlights on the comp here from the News Tribune.

About the Author

2. Will Dujardin
Will Dujardin is our content editor at West Elk Project. He competes in big mountain competitions and coaches the Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team. Skiing is his life and he likes to mix it with other fun things like DH mountain biking and traveling.