Freestyle in Style on Fridays at Highlands

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Local freestyle skiers spice up Friday afternoons at Aspen Highlands with bumps, jumps, and some fabulous spills.

When one thinks of Aspen, freestyle skiing is unlikely to be the first thing that comes to mind. The going stereotype would likely be more along the lines of fur-coated skiers, posh restaurants, or celebrities sauntering down Main Street. Locals, however, are well aware of Aspen's reputation for hardcore skiing. Locals, in fact, play a vital role in upholding that reputation by competing in the world's longest running freestyle skiing event. Aspen Highlands' Freestyle Fridays competition has been hyped as being "chock full of bumps, sick aerials, and $1,450 in prize money" and I happened to be in attendance a few Fridays ago.

A big crowd made it to the Merry-Go-Round restaurant just below the Scarlett's Run course at Highlands, and boy, were they in for a treat. Skiers were accelerating down knee-crushing moguls, stopping only to fly over man-made jumps throwing everything from spread-eagles to triple-twisters. The spectators oohed and aahed as each successive competitor did his best to outdo the previous one, by throwing -- and doing his best to land -- riskier maneuvers. The crowd was treated to mind-blowing wipeouts as well as perfectly landed flips and 360s.

When the snow settled, it was Aspen local Corry Sawer taking home the weekly $500 first prize and 60 points. Eric Knight and Russ Craney finished second and third and took home $300 (40 points) and $200 (20 points), respectively. Points are awarded each week during the seven-week competition, with the top four end-of-the-season finishers receiving a bonus cash prize. Despite his second-place finish, Knight (as of March 2) continued to hold the top spot in the season standings with a 20-point lead over Ean Smith and a 30-point lead over Sawer.

The final Freestyle Fridays event of the season is March 23, at 12:30pm. The event is free to the public and includes an Apres Bump Party with prize giveaways and drink specials. For more information, contact event director Nancy Scheinkman at 970-925-2030 or check out www.aspensnowmass.com.

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