With fewer and fewer Open events in skiing, competitions like the Aspen/Snowmass Open are crucial for the next generation of pipe and slopestyle skiers. Since its inception in 2005, the contest that is held on the Winter X Games course has seen multiple winners go on to compete in X Games the following year.
Conditions couldn't have been better for the 2011 Aspen/Snowmass Open, which wrapped up Sunday after four days of blazing sun turned Buttermilk into a beach for a slew of spectators lounging in lawn chairs.
Sunday's ski pipe winner was an unsponsored Park City skier named Jonny Marks, whose run included a right flare mute, left 1260, right 9, tail grab, left 10 tail grab, switch alley oop 7, mute grab. It marked his first contest since ACL surgery a year and a half ago and he's celebrating the victory by spending his $5,000 winner's check on a heli-skiing trip this spring.
Evan Schwartz took second and $2,500 with the most solid looking grabs of the comp. Brian Kish held on to third and $1,500.
In the women's field, Kimmy Sharpe stomped a 540 to alleyoop to 5 to straight to 720 to oust the women's Superpipe field for the win. "I was stoked to land my second run," said Sharp. "It's a really nice pipe. And it was awesome to compete against a handful of really good girls."
Shannon Gunning of Ontario placed second and took home $750, and Analisa Drew of Glenwood Springs rounded out the podium with third place and $300.
Friday saw 10 male finalists take to the six-feature X Games Slopestyle course.
Montana bred, Utah based Tim McChesney found himself atop the podium after a run that included a double cork 10, rightside rodeo 9 and a switch double 10.
Canadian Jamieson Irvin, 15, landed in second and Norweigian Ole Christian Mustad took third. "It's the best slope course I've ever skied," said Mustad. "You see it in movies and on TV, but I have so much more respect now that I've skied it. It's even tighter than I imagined."
As for the ladies, winner Kristi Johns from Winter Park, Colo., attacked the upper rail section then threw a 7 to leftside 3 to rightside three on the bottom features. Pennsylvania native Catherine Warchal and Ontario based Dara Howell cleaned up with second and third.
"It's so big ... bigger than any course I've ever hit," said Howell. "We do the best we can back home, but it's a whole different experience here. To say I've ridden the X Games course is awesome."
The X Games Superpipe and Slopestyle course are now open to the public. Let the carnage ensue.