March 17, 2012

Taos Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships 2012


The first weekend of March I joined a large group of Crested Butte skiers to go compete at the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships in Taos, NM.  Having never been to Taos, I was delighted to find a mountain littered with spines, cliffs, and great snow conditions.  Taos has enjoyed a relatively good snow year, and with only a small contingent of locals who really get after it, features were ready to go.  Qualifiers and Day 2 were to be held at West Basin, with the finals on the famed Kachina Peak.

Taos Ski Valley, owned and operated by three generations of the Blake Family, put on a great event.  After qualifiers, athletes put on a show in the West Basin.  On a day when twenty footers were standard, Sammy Steen took first by perfectly stomping a fifty five footer in a zone known as “Heavy Timber”.

Event organizer Alejandro Blake commented, the day “in the West Basin venue was the most intense day I’ve witnessed at this event.  As a 4* Freeride World Tour qualifying event, we’ve always been fortunate to host some of the best athletes in the world, but this year the talent pool was deeper, and the level of competition definitely ramped up.”  The rest of the leader board was dominated by Crested Buttians.  Five of the top seven men and two of the top three women call Crested Butte home.

Bluebird skies and six inches of new snow made for ideal conditions for the finals on Taos’ Kachina Peak.  The athletes did not fail to deliver.  Crested Butte athletes continued their domination.  Irwin Media House’s Brandon Clabaugh took first by billy goating out to the nose of a 35 footer and stomping, adding a smooth left side 360 to cement his title.  He was followed by Crested Buttians Rob Dickinson and Tom Runcie, who skied fast fluid lines to round out the podium.  On the women’s side, CB local Ashley Bembenek ascended from third to take first, followed by Taos’ Katie Gillen and Alex Reidman.

1. Brandon Clabaugh 2. Rob Dickinson 3. Tom Runcie

Overall, the competition was a huge success.  Big thank you to Alejandro and Sarah at Taos Ski Valley for putting on such a fun event.  Blackalicious killed it at the awards party. If you’ve never seen Taos, it is worth checking out.  Incredible terrain and a very cool vibe.  See you all next year.


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.