The second stop of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour invaded Ski Arpa, a remote snowcat operation outside of Los Andes, Chile, this weekend for the Chilean Freeskiing Championships.
Highlights from the competition included Chile's own Sole Diaz, who won the women's competition, lacing a fast and aggressive line, and Lars Chickering-Ayers, who won the men's field, boosting a diving-board takeoff over 50-plus feet of exposure for the highest scoring run of the two-day contest, which ended Sunday.
"My line definitely had me nervous on top of the venue," said Chickering-Ayers. "I had to get myself psyched up for that one. It's been a long time since I felt like that, but it was super fun to ski."
Kirkwood's Josh Daiek and Squaw Valley's Kevin O'Meara combined stylish tricks, high-speed turns, and agro fall-line skiing en route to the second and third spots, respectively, behind Chickering-Ayers, who hails from Mad River Glen, Vermont.
Angel Collinson and Crystal Wright made up the women's podium behind Diaz. "I actually changed my line at the last second in the gate because it was too rocky, but I love what I decided to ski," said Sole Diaz. "I saw some people ski the line I decided to ski a bit slower and softer, and I knew I could ski it harder and faster."
The progression of big-mountain skiing was in full effect throughout the weekend with athletes going inverted and spinning off natural terrain features as well as enhanced booters placed in strategic spots. Chopo Diaz's huge 360 over rocks, Tommy Ellingson's sleepy Lincoln loop off of a jump and his big double backflip, the first double attempt in an FWT event, plus Drew Rouse' switch 180 into the venue, and the insane cork 720 that Broc Sheue threw on the first hit of his run were a few highlights. Leo Ahrens, 18, earned the coveted Sickbird belt buckle with a run that included a 540, landing switch at high-speed before two subsequent 360s.
Due to thin snow conditions, the FWT staff made the decision to hold day two on the same venue as the first day, called Cornices. And with the high-scoring lines being shutdown due to deteriorating conditions, they decided to choose the winner from the athletes' highest score over both days, as opposed to the combined scoring system they usually use.
"It was the right call to make this the best of two runs," said Angel Collinson. "There are opportunities for people to jump up in the standings with creative line choices, but no one wants to see our friends get hurt."
Up next, Revelstoke, BC, will host the third stop on the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour in January.