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Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships



West Basin
Day 1 and Day 2

Taos Ski Valley is a family owned resort nestled deep within the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Northern New Mexico.  The resort boasts steep terrain, wide-open bowls, and uncrowded slopes.  Taos has always been family owned and operated by the Blake family.  They are dedicated to continuing the success and legacy of the ski resort built by Ernie and Rhoda Blake starting in 1954.  Alejandro Blake and his family were key in organizing and hosting  the 2013  Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships.   Also key in making this 4 star world qualifying event  such a success was the amazing staff, the exceptional terrain, and the athletes’ performance.

Camila Brown
Camila Brown

The Taos experience is not to be missed.  The quaint southwestern city is a rich, culturally diverse area with many locals being of  Native American and Spanish decent.  Taos Ski Valley, just outside of town offers terrain for all types of skiers and riders.  One can cruise the nice groomers or hike just a short distance to some extreme and exposed terrain that happens to also make great venues for big-mountain competitions.

West Basin Venue
West Basin Venue


The Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships started February 28 with both the first and second day of qualifying being in the West Basin venue. The third and final day of competition, March 2nd, was held on Kachina peak.  The three day event featured men and women snowboarders and skiers.  Each athlete earned a cumulative score which determined the winner.  Each day of competition a number of athletes were eliminated.  The field was cut from 24 female snowboarders to 5, 26 female skiers to 13 , 43 male snowboarders to 16, and 57 male skiers to 20 for the finals day on Kachina Peak.


The West Basin offered several different route options.  The face was the longest route. It was hidden in the shadows most of the day, but offered some great cliff jumps.  Another option used by the skiers but not many of the riders was the heavy timber area.  Lastly, there was a steep set of sunny cliff bands with some nice exit chutes that many snowboarders chose as their competition line.DPP_000103

The climax of the event was a beautiful, sunny, finals day.  Venue inspection began at 8 am as athletes made the 30 minute walk up 12,481 foot Kachina Peak in an effort to scope their line, smooth their runways, and warm up their legs for the one-run final.  Originally, the idea was to leave the venues fresh, allowing only for a visual inspection.  Because of the variable snow conditions and previous wind event, organizers decided an actual on-snow inspection would be the safest idea for athletes.

Kachina Peak
Kachina Peak

Around 10 a.m. with the sun high in the sky the venue gleamed and sparkled as the female snowboarders kicked the competition off.  Five women snowboarders competed on Kachina the final day.  Alta Snowboard Team rider Kaitlin Elliott received the highest score of the ladies riders, 8.17.  She rode consistently well throughout the competition and her cumulative score was the highest which earned her a first place finish.  Kaitlin has several second place finishes, but this is her first win. We are super pumped for Kaitlin.


Kaitlin’s Winning Run


Following the female riders were the lady skiers. Those gals really put on a great show rippin’ through the powder.  Two ladies often seen skiing Snowbird made it to the finals.  Hannah Follender and Desiree Touchette. Congrats Desiree on a 5th place finish.


DPP_00052 DPP_00051 DPP_00064

Jesse Maddox

AST rider Jesse Maddox probably had one of the craziest runs of the whole competition.  First, he hucked a front-flip off the top cornice of his line into the steep, wooded entry of a “no-fall-zone.”  He then made quick work of some steep terrain above nasty exposure.  After a nasty approach, jumping off one of the biggest cliffs in the venue and nearly taking out a cameraman, he spun a backside rodeo 7 off the Red Bull money booter.  The action was non-stop and the crowd went wild.  Jesse earned his personal best finish of 11th place.  Way to represent.  A 40-photo-secuence of Jesse’s run taken by Dave Watson is viewable on

Another Alta Snowboard Team rider, Matt Carter, scored in with his 13th place final finish.  Matt had the pressure on from the get-go blowing the edge out of his board just minutes before his first qualifying run.  After a quick board change and a race to the starting line he qualified 12th. The second day he qualified 11th and his final run down Kachina Peak earned him the lucky number 13.  Matt managed to stay on his feet throughout the competition and his consistent scores kept him in the top 15.


Matt Carter  Finals Run
Matt Carter
Finals Run

Local knowledge of the mountain proved to be a true asset this competition.  Local patroller Justin Bobb won the men’s snowboarding division.  Bobb earned it with some pretty sick lines.  Justin is a nice person and an awesome representation of how snowboarders at a resort can be respectable super shredder employees.

Drew Peterson won for the men skiers and as always the skiers hucked it huge.  It was mine blowing watching the skiers go so big.


The AST had a whole list of athletes competing at Taos and we had an awesome time hanging out in the warm New Mexico sun.  The AST women snowboarders were Kaitlin Elliott, Camila Brown, and Rose Struble.  The AST men snowboarders were Jesse Maddox, Matt Carter, Mica Brownlie, Zaine Salerno, Jordan Nelson, Wade Williams, and Nick Diachun.  Way to go Team.DPP_00085

The hospitality given to us while we were in the “Land of Enchantment” was unending.  El Pueblo Lodge in Taos is a sister lodge to Alta’s Peruvian Lodge.  We stayed at the El Pueblo after the long days of riding.  The accommodations were lovely.  The lodge staff were amazing hosts and really made us feel welcome.  Check them out at

In conclusion, Taos was spectacular.  You might have missed the 2013 Saloman Extreme Freeride Championship, but it is not too late to ski or ride Taos Ski Valley.  They just received new snow, so it is prime time.             

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Ice and Rocks. The 2013 Masters at Alpine.

Dave Zook is a sponsored Alta Snowboard Team Rider.  Dave was kind enough to share his experiences at the first Masters of Snowboarding event held at Alpine Meadows, California on February 14th, 2013.  Dave finished 26th in a field of 54 competitors.

Author:Dave Zook

Photos: Dee

High Yellow Alpine Venue

To me the Masters is about having fun and pushing my abilities amidst a group of talented riders. I have done a few competitions in years past with limited success, but have an underlying confidence that on the right day I can hang with the big kids. I was hoping Tahoe would be that day.


On the first day at Alpine I had my inner amp-up reserves stored up for a 20-foot rock with a firm but acceptably steep landing. The goal was to stay conservative through the top section and cap the run off with a sizeable air, staying fluid throughout.

Top Air
Top Air

I dropped into the upper ice apron and squiggled and squirmed over the wind-scoured month-old snow. I found air 1, a four-foot drop to slick runout.

A four-foot air is admittedly small, but I have no trouble conceding that for me it was difficult to land any air on that steep of a venue and control the speed afterward. The difficulty lay in not simply landing the air but regaining composure without throwing the board on the heel edge and sliding for awhile, as doing so is not smooth, and runs the risk of washing out. Though the announcers kept saying “railing out” when this happened, which channeled my inner eighth-grader and made me giggle.


Someone else “Railing out”


I dropped the first air and rode out, sliding but a little on my heel. I weaved over to air 2 which was about a foot bigger than air 1st. The same tactic here yielded the same result. While I could feel I wasn’t rocketing through the course like some (Matt Carter!), control was a nice thing to be able to fall back on to justify lack of berserk speed.


Zook’s jump 2

But one big rock still lay between myself and a cold beer. The in-run had a smoothed out and perfectly horizontal takeoff zone from everyone scraping it the day before. That’s nice, I thought, as I closed in on the lip. I remember wanting to drift from rider’s left to right in the air, so I could find the optimal transition, and not go too far and land in Nick Perata’s lap in the announcing booth.

Got the Grab


The plan almost worked. My speed felt good, I found the grab and looked at the impending landing coming straight to the bottom of my feet. Only a few centimeters of board, a sturdy pair of boots and a pair of thin socks insulated my feet from the ruggedly firm snow. If memory serves me, which it probably doesn’t when trying to recollect thoughts from a free-fall, I was positioned to land on the mental X I had mapped out.

But, I came down with a tad too much weight centered over my front foot and tumbled. I’d anticipated the landing to be proper hardpack, but I think the snow gave way just a touch and tripped me up and over the handlebars. I tweaked my ankle and it hurt. I broke my board and that sucked. I didn’t land and wouldn’t get a great score and that pissed me off.

OUCH Face to ICE


But like anything, perspective is key. It was a beautiful day in Cali, my home state and I was outside, and snowboarding. Friends were watching and supporting me, which counts for everything, more than I can express. In no time I was smiling and cheering on the rest of the riders. I had fun.


Author and Rider: Dave Zook
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Alpine, Squaw, Now Kirkwood and Taos

Kaitlin Elliot Indy Grab at Alpine
6th place finish

Competition season is now in full swing and the Alta Snowboard Team is out on the circuit getting recognition,  having a good time traveling, meeting new friends, and of course snowboarding. Most recently over the President’s Day weekend, events for the Freeride World Qualifier Tour were held at Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley North Lake Tahoe, California. The Alta Snowboard Team athletes were competing against an array of top-notch snowboarders from all over North America in an effort to obtain a position on the Freeride World Tour, where they would be competing internationally.


The Masters of Snowboarding has been a favorite event for big-mountain snowboarders for the past six seasons. The 2012-2013 season has been a bit different for the Masters as the event merged with the Freeride World Tour.   In the past, venues for the Masters were at Crystal Mountain, WA, Kirkwood CA, Girdwood AK, Crested Butte CO, and our favorite Snowbird UT.   This year Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley were chosen as the resorts to host a big-mountain style competition.  These new locations are great, but conditions at these locations not so great.


Squaw Valley North Face Masters


Venue at Squaw C-2 Bowl

On Feburary 14th, 2013 Alpine Meadows hosted the opening event for the Masters. This two star event had no prize money, but yet was an opportunity for those who were not qualified to advance to Squaw Valley the four star event the following day. The awards at Squaw Valley were much greater. The winner got 3,000 dollars in prize money and a spot on the international tour.


Utah was well represented in the line-up of competitors.  Five female ladies in a field of eighteen were representing Utah and ten men of fifty-four. Many of the Utah competitors were proud to put the Alta Snowboard Team as one of their sponsors.   The Alta Snowboard Team has been a concept for more than a decade, but in the last year we have organized ourselves into a team of super shredders. We are getting both national and international recognition.

Ryan Hudson sending ” Backbreaker” to the hard-pack

This year at the Masters was different because you weren’t just cheering for your friends you ride with, but rather there was a whole group to support.  The Utah crowd was pumped and cheering for those on the Alta Snowboard Team.  It was pretty cool. Furthermore the AST was getting props from the announcers at the Masters.

We even got a few new members while out in California. Rose Struble rides at Brighton and the Bird and was entering her first Masters. She is now a proud AST member. We also added 20 year old Jordan Nelson to the team. Jordan may be a young buck, but he knows how to ride. Mike Meru was also stoked to join the team. He is a family man, but still makes time to get out in the mountains. He loves splitboarding. Making new friends and spreading the good vibe is what we are about here at the Alta Snowboard Team and the California sun helped us out with that mission.

Ruari MacFarlane NZ won the Squaw event
Ruari has been to Utah and loves the AST



So where is the AST headed next? Ahhh So glad you asked. Laura Dewey, Shannan Yates and John Rodosky will be competing at the fourth stop of the Swatch Freeride Tour at Kirkwood Ca. Contest starts February 27. There is also a group of AST members going to Taos, New Mexico for the qualifying event February 28 through March 2nd.  That one is called 2013 Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships.  Good Luck to all the athletes.  Both competetions will be skiers and snowboarders. One Love- it is going to be a fun weekend.


Kaitlin will be rocking her AST gear in Taos










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AST members travel to California for The North Face Masters

Ten Alta Snowboard Team riders are scheduled to compete at the North Face Masters of snowboarding this week.  Two events are scheduled.  The first event will take place at Alpine Meadows and is classified as a 2 star event.  Following Alpine Meadows is a 4 star event to be held at Squaw Valley.  The venues have been announced.  At  Alpine Meadows the athletes will be riding “High Yellow”.  The Squaw Valley venue is set for Cornice 2 Bowl also called the Light Towers.  Conditions are not ideal for a big mountain competition, so there is a bit of suspense for the riders.

In order to understand what kind of preparations it takes to do an event like this, the Alta Snowboard Team Athletes were asked  “What preparations have they been making for the competition in California?” and also if they “Have snowboarded at Alpine Meadows or Squaw Valley?”


Dave Zook

Dave Zook has been riding the fresh snow at Snowbird everyday in preparation for the Cali contest.  He is going to get his board tuned up at the Peruvian and let his legs rest on the 10 hour ride to the Golden State.

Matt Carter bought a new board because his current ride is thrashed.  He is hoping not to destroy it before competition day.  He also had his base tuned with a special “structure” pattern.  Structures are going to be important in California because if it is warm Matt still wants to be able to slide fast.  He keeps saying he is going to do some yoga.  Matt has been to Squaw Valley twice.  Once on Memorial Day and later on the 4th of July, but has never ridden Alpine Meadows.

Matt Carter

Jacob Levine has been out riding with Team Utah.  Jacob is dedicated to his coaching job, but last year he decided to try a little competition himself.  Jacob is a veteran slopestyle competitor.  However, he had not competed in 6 seasons until he tried at Snowbird last season.  Furthermore his discipline was parks and jumps so this was the first big mountain competition he had done.  Low and behold he finished 4th at Snowbird.  This year he is going to give competition snowboarding a try again.   With results like that Why not? Jacob was in Salt Lake less than 24 hours before flying to Reno.  He has been in Jackson Hole this last week warming up his legs up on the hard pack.  Jacob has been to both Squaw Valley and Alpine, but it has been a long time.

Jacob Levine



Jesse Maddox has been out snowmobiling and splitboarding in the backcountry.  He works the graveyard shift drivings cats at the Bird and rides all day until he is a walking zombie.  He sleeps and repeats.  Jesse is super pumped to get a few days off work to go enjoy the California sun.

Ryan Hudson has been out snowboarding at Snowbird and has been putting the final touches on his speech.  Ryan is part of The North Face Speaker Series.  He will be giving a presentation Friday February 15th at 6:00pm.  The audience will be at full attention to hear Ryan speak.

Ryan Hudson
Beth Weissman

Beth Weissman has been skiing at Alta to prepare for the contest.  She said she wanted to snowboard but it has been too crowded at the Bird. (Agreed)  She has never been to Alpine Meadows and she went to Squaw once nine years ago.

Camilla Brown has been out shredding the Utah powder.  She finished 5th in the Canis Lupus at Canyons resort on February 2nd.  Camilla had a ball at Kirkwood last year finishing 3rd and getting a super fresh run down the forbidden Cirque.  Camila went to Alpine Meadows ten years ago and never to Squaw Valley.

Camila Brown

Kaitlynn Elliot has been training all summer and fall with Shannan at Vitality Fitness.  She has been riding hard on the powder days.  She is mentally preparing herself by trying to visualize her lines.  She is strong right now and confident in her abilities.  Mountain  biking has helped Kaitlynn stay fit in the off season and feeds her need to speed down the mountain.

Shannan Yates

Shannan Yates is prepared for anything anytime.  Shannan has dedicated herself to nursing school and yet is still getting it done on the competition scene.  Shannan took the top finish at the SWATCH Freeride World Tour in the ladie’s snowboarding division in Revelstoke on January 7th 2013.  She was just at the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom this past weekend where she finished 6th in the pro womens division.

We wish all the athletes a safe trip to California and we already know they are going to have a good time.

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Beth Wins Canis Lupus 2013

Beth on Course Photo: Vivian

In the competitive world of snowboarding, there are but a few events that incorporate bumps, twists, and tight turns down gullies set up with slalom gates. The Legendary Mt. Baker Banked Slalom is the most famous of these crazy races. Dick’s Ditch held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is another well known snowboarding race. Although not nearly as famous as the other mentioned slalom races, Utah has its own banked slalom race hosted by Canyons Resort known as the Canis Lupus.

This year’s annual Canis Lupus race was held on February 2, 2013.   ASTs’ very own Beth Weissman was the top ladies finisher. She was followed by her teammates Kaitlin Elliott in 3rd, Kara Doane in 4th, and Camilla Brown with a strong 5th place finish. We are ecstatic here in Little Cottonwood to have four of the top five finishers as members of the Alta Snowboarding Team.

The course is a 1/4 mile natural gully in which gates are set up for athletes to go around before continuing down the mountain course. These gates are not in easy locations to maneuver around. Beth described the course as rocky, icy, twisty, turny, and gnarly. Next, add five difficult gates and a bunch of snowboarders and you got yourself a competition.

Beth at starting gate

Beth won the Canis Lupus last year by beating AST member Laura Dewey by 1/20 of a second, which was the same margin she won by this year. Beth was able to shave some time off her run this year and described the highlight of the event as coming back from second to take first place. Furthermore she was delighted to keep the title in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Vivian Bengtson placed third last year and competed this year, but took a nasty fall. She is not discouraged and we will continue to watch her future progression.  She will be back shredding the first part of March.

Beth and Vivian smile for photographer
Corey Kopischke


Canyons Resort Facebook page has some nice photos from the event. Check them out. If you think you can ride a gnarly ditch race, enter next years’ Canis Lupus.

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Laura Dewey Wins Chamonix

The Alta Snowboard Team congratulates Laura Dewey for her top finish at the Swatch Freeride World Tour in Chamonix-Monte-Blanc on January 22,  2013.  Dewey had several setbacks on her journey to France, but her strong will and determination put her on top.

Laura at Chamonix

Laura’s first flight leaving Salt Lake City was delayed by an ice storm.  Her plane leaving from Washington D.C. was cancelled.  After being re-booked and barely making it on a flight to London she found out her bags were not going to arrive in time for the event.  Once she did make it to the World Freeride event she rented some boots, Tim Carlson lent her a Lib Tech board and she raced away to the event.  Literally she was running across Chamonix in order to make the start time.  Once on top of the mountain Laura knew what she had to do.  She said she felt relief and excitement.  She worked hard for this run and she was going to have fun and make her efforts count.  Despite all the obstacles Laura faced on her journey to the mountain, she had an awesome clean line linking four jumps and won the women’s snowboard event.

Laura’s perseverance despite all the setbacks makes her a driving force and inspiration to the whole team.  Laura is affectionately known as the ladies’ captain of the Alta Snowboard Team.  Her roots run deep at Alta and Snowbird, the Freeride community, and the river community. Most recently,  Laura’s international travels have opened a new door for her full of new opportunities and experiences. She now has good friends in France she wants to visit again.

Photo: Freeride World Tour

Laura qualified for the SWATCH Freeride world Tour based on her points from the 2011-2012 season and she will be competing next at Kirkwood, California on February 27, 2013.  The next international event Dewey will be competing in will be at Fieberbrunn Pillerseetal, Austria on March 9, 2013.

 Check out the Freeride world tour site for upcoming events, standings, and photos.  The site and the competitions are for both skiers and snowboarders.  One Love.