Red attracts top skiers to ‘iconic’ event

Some of the world’s best senior free-skiers made their mark on Red Mountain this weekend during the Canadian Open, which continues this week with its junior portion of the event.

A photographer looks for the perfect shot Saturday as a competitor flys down Mount Roberts during the final run of the senior  freeskiers portion of the Canadian Open.

A photographer looks for the perfect shot Saturday as a competitor flys down Mount Roberts during the final run of the senior freeskiers portion of the Canadian Open.

Some of the world’s best senior free-skiers made their mark on Red Mountain this weekend during the Canadian Open, which continues this week with its junior portion of the event.

It was a close call for the female competitors, but 27-year-old Kasie Stroshin from Whistler came out on top with a total score of 52.77 out of 100. Not far behind, Calgary’s Julie Thomas, 22, stole second with 51.68 and 28-year-old Rachel Findler hailing from Whistler came in third with 51.33.

Revelstoke’s CJ Wright, 33, earned first place in the men’s competition with 61.23 out of 100 – another tight battle, as 22-year-old Alex Wall from Nelson finished with 59.85 and reigning world champion Lars Chickering-Ayers – a 23-year-old from Plainfield, Utah – took home third with 58.95.

Out of $10,000 in prize money, the male winner earns about $3,000 and the female champ takes home approximately $2,000.

Red athletes also made triumphs.

A two-time Canadian junior champion who now races in the senior division at 19 years old, Colston Villaneuva Beatson finished fourth in the men’s final run. Meanwhile 23-year-old Leah Evans, who won last year’s competition, earned fifth place in the finisher. The Rossland native must have been feeling confident after just winning the Subara Canadian Freeskiing Championships in Revelstoke last week, where she competed against some of the best freeskiers in the world.

The hill’s “iconic-type event” attracted 68 senior contenders for its 10th annual event, when skiers are judged on their choice of line, control, technique, fluidity and aggression, explained Mika Hakkola, Red’s marketing and communications manager.

Also known as newschool skiing, freeski is a type of alpine ski that has competitors conquering steep, big mountains all while pulling off tricks and jumps.

Top qualifiers fought their way through thick fog Thursday down Granite Mountain’s Link’s Line in order to move on in the competition. While Thursday’s weather forced judges to stagger themselves on the slopes to properly judge segments of each skier’s run, Friday was another story.

The semi-final run was cancelled because the weather “didn’t provide accurate visibility for the judges.”

Instead skiers who were close on the tail of some of the top qualifiers were granted an opportunity to move straight to the finals held on Mount Roberts on a “blue-bird day” Saturday.

“Ultimately there were a few adjustments made, but at the end of the day it didn’t effect the competition at all,” said Hakkola.

Skiers were “pumped” about the event, he said, noting that runs were heightened with inverted jumps.

“There were no injuries at all, safety is always first and foremost,” he said.

Red has now moved its focus to its younger competitors, with the juniors hitting the slope Thursday in hopes of qualifying for the semi-final run Friday. With more interest than average, 115 juniors will fight for a chance in the final competition held Saturday.