Ok, so they didn't drop the ropes for the Tram Face yet, but Squaw Valley's Silverado still made a pretty stellar backdrop for the first day of the Freeride World Tour when it touched down Stateside. While the big dogs from Europe like Henrik Windstedt and Xavier de le Rue have historically dominated the Tour, their American competitors were hardly going to roll over in front of the hometown crowd. Americans Jeremy Jones, Elyse Saugsted and Susan Moll all finished first in their respective divisions getting 'er done for the Red, White and Blue.
While no one was surprised to see Jeremy Jones' name sitting at the top of the leader board, it was surprising to see his name on the roster at all. The snowboard legend rarely competes. "When I heard there was a Tram Face event, I was like, 'I have to ride the Tram Face'," said Jones. "I was definitely less inspired to compete on other terrain, but it was fun to compete at my home mountain."
Jones chose one of the most unique lines of the day going far rider's right, while most rider's came down the gut or rider's left. "I was going 20th and the area where I originally wanted to go, I heard like ten people were going there," said Jones. "I knew it would be bombed out, so I was looking for an area that I thought would see less traffic, but ironically, I ended up landing in a big bomb hole halfway down my line anyway."
While Mr. Jones would love to lay fresh tracks down the Tram Face when and if it goes down the beginning of next week, the local favorite has a prior commitment. "Laird Hamilton called me up to go and ride for a week in Alaska and, I kind of couldn't turn it down," said Jones. OK, whatever Jeremy.
Luckily, Elyse Saugsted (ski) and Susan Moll (snowboard) don't have any Alaskan heli-board dates lined up with surfing gods, and both women will be on hand to defend their leads on the Tram Face. Saugsted is last year's tour winner, and she flashed one of the fastest lines of the day, stomping three big airs on the way down. Susan Moll earned an invitation to the Tram Face by winning one of the sister events event at Crested Butte a few weeks earlier.
With all of this talk of American domination, don't forget that the roster is still loaded with European stars. The top three men skiers were all from across the Big Pond. Sandwiched in the middle was none other than Sweden's Henrik Windstedt. Windstedt, a former top level ski racer turned Winter X Games park sensation turned big mountain pro, won the overall tour in 2008 and is heavily favored to do it again in '09.
French Snowboarder Xavier de le Rue is no slouch either. Xavier finished third on the Silverado face after boosting off the Tram building and stomping a huge air right before the finish. The overall Tour winner in 2008 dominates across the board ... literally. He owns multiple Winter X gold medals in Snowboarder X and is a former Olympian. After putting his race boards on the backburner in '08 to concentrate on freeriding, Xavier hopped in a couple early season World Cup boardercross races in '09, just to see if he was still "valid". Well, the French slacker managed a first at the World Cup in Bad Gastien, Austria before going on to earn a silver medal at the World Championships in Gangwon, Korea. We guess that is kind of valid, right?
As of Friday evening the Tram Face day is still scheduled for the beginning of next week, weather permitting. Event organizers will make the call on Sunday night. All 53 competitors who competed on Silverado will advance. Full results from the first day can be found at Tramface.com.
1- Reine Barkered SWE
2-Henrik Windstedt SWE
3-Aurelien Ducroz FRA
1-Elyse Saugstad USA
2-Marja Persson SWE
3-Jen Ashton CAN
1-Jeremy Jones USA
2-Jonas Emery SUI
3-Xavier de Le Rue SUI
1-Susan Moll USA
2-Aline Bock GER
3-Charlotte Hagen NOR