- The final stop of The North Face Masters competitive big mountain snowboarding tour wrapped up yesterday at Alyeska Resort in Alaska's Chugach Mountains. The two-stop tour is the first competitive snowboarding series specifically tailored to fill a competition gap in the sport of big mountain snowboarding. After stormy weather postponed the super finals for two anxious days, patient competitors finally had the opportunity yesterday to showcase their skill on the permanently closed Shadows section of Alyeska's Headwall.
Big mountain snowboarding competitions are determined through a cumulative method, which rewards consistency throughout three days of competition. In short, it takes more than one impressive run to crown a champion; it takes three solid runs over three days. Factoring in line selection, fluidity, control and style, the panel of judges did not have an easy task.
The fight for the women's crown was close, as less than five points separated the top five women who advanced to the super final round. Rachel Sheidow of Mt. Buller, Australia, improved her standings moving from fourth to third overall with a total of 59.30 points. The North Face Masters Snowbird event winner, Susan Mol of Crested Butte, Colorado, was the first woman to drop into a new zone on the venue that became the choice for top male riders later in the competition. She executed a fast and decisive final run to earn her second spot overall with 65.33 points. Sitting in first after the two qualifying days, Laura Dewey of Snowbird, Utah, rode with controlled aggression, utilizing rock gardens and exposure and was ultimately able to hang onto her lead, winning the title with 66.05 points. Mol and Dewey proudly share The North Face Masters 2008 overall women's tour title.
"We were all pretty anxious at the top," said Dewey after learning of her narrow victory yesterday. "The conditions were super variable, with everything from these bugged-out sharky chunks to some really clean, open stashes. This was a huge opportunity to either shine or leave knowing I'd only gone halfway, so I pretty much knew I had to go for it full-on."
The top 15 men who advanced were separated by less than 10 points going into yesterday's super finals. Notable runs include sixth place finisher, and Alaska native, Ryland Bell who perfectly executed a backside 360, tail-grab at high speed in the middle of an already aggressive run through the rocks. The North Face Masters Snowbird winner Clif Dimon of Crested Butte, Colorado, pioneered a daring billy goat line, earning him fourth place and enough points to win The North Face Masters 2008 overall men's title. Martin Gallant of Whistler, British Columbia, sealed his spot on the Alyeska podium with sweeping powder turns and rock-skimming cliff drops. Gallant accumulated a total of 75.83 points, to finish third overall. In his first ever big mountain competition, Rob Kingwill, of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, who was sitting in second position going into the super finals, pulled every last card out of his sleeve with an aggressive line choice and plenty of rock exposure to earn him a total of 80.67 points overall. Kingwill's performance was enough to edge out Korey Kaszmarek, whose final run, which included a high-speed double-drop, was ultimately not quite enough to keep his lead. Kaszmarek finished in second with 79.83 points.
"The light went really dark right before my run, which made this wide open space kind of eerie to deal with," said men's winner Rob Kingwill. "To be honest, I didn't hit the exact line I meant to, because I had a hard time seeing it. But I did end up hitting a lot of other big stuff out there."
The North Face Young Gun Award honors outstanding new talent in competitive big mountain snowboarding. Points accumulated throughout the season earns one deserving under-21-year-old a full sponsorship from The North Face. TThis stop's winner was 20 year-old Jonathan Penfield, from Snowbird, Utah. Penfield, who also won The North Face Young Gun Award at The North Face Masters Snowbird, took home The North Face Young Gun overall title for 2008.
Congratulations to The North Face Masters 2008 tour champions Clif Dimon, Susan Mol and Laura Dewey (tie for first) who walked away with a portion of the $45,000 total tour prize purse.
The North Face Masters was broadcast live to the world on thenorthface.com/masters utilizing Mountain Sports International's cutting-edge remote broadcast services. Coverage began on April 7th at 2 pm AKST, (6 pm EST) on thenorthface.com/masters and futuresnowboarding.com. Highlights of the finals broadcast, photos, stories, profiles, and more video content can be found there.
Super Final Start List (athletes ran in reverse order of standings):