Marissa Krawczak: Subaru Freeride Series at Crested Butte

Crested Butte is such a welcoming place with burly steep terrain. I got into town a week before the competition started, and in no time at all I had friends in the lift line and at local businesses. The snow just kept relentlessly falling, and the local chatted about the all-time season. I felt lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and to have met so many down-to-earth individuals. People were generous enough to show me the ropes and guts of the mountain, and stoked to ride nasty steep and deep lines with me. This place is for real, and I was excited to be riding here for the first stop of the Subaru Freeride Series in the newly added snowboard category!

The Subaru Freeride Series is a series of qualifier events for the Freeride World Tour for skiing and snowboarding. Crested Butte hosted two events, a 2-star and a 4-star. Basically, the 4-star counts for more points towards a rider’s World Overall ranking. The sole snowboard lady with the highest amount of points from the Americas combined will have a spot on the 2015 Freeride World Tour.

Soon enough freeriders from all over North America were coming into Crested Butte, hungry for fresh powder and podiums. Day one started with the 2-star competition on Headwall, a steep, open venue with lots of rocks to billy goat around to what become a mogul field by competition day. The lady skiers opened it up and gave us snowboarders more time for one more visual inspection of the course.

I was feeling good for the event and wanted to warm up my season with a solid run. Since course inspections are visual only, it’s sometimes hard to read terrain, especially in flat light and from a distance. I memorized my line over and over, but once I dropped in for my run it all looked completely different! Luckily, I just sniffed out some fun powder turns, did a nice air, and ended up gapping to 5-0 on a giant feature called box rock. Tiff Noel opted for a technical line down the gully, taking two nice airs into powder. She too said that she strayed from her original planned line, just because it looks so different when you are in it! Camilla Brown attempted a 360, and halfpipe rider Leslie Glenn made a smooth appearance and took third. Tiff ended up second, and I won for the day! We had a really good time on the podium and I got interviewed by Mountain Sports International, which was a really fun, new, and successful experience for me.

I was excited for the two-day 4-star event, but I listened to too many people telling me to play it safe so I could make it to finals day. The start list put me to drop first on Dead End Chutes, and after hearing over the radios that World Tour skier and Crested Butte local, Francesca Pavillard-Cain, fell and knocked herself out, I was really nervous! I chose a line that may have been too full of trees, but I got some small airs and rode fast. It was too safe at the end of the day, and Tess Carney took the top spot for her steep slide. Casey Lucas also took a steep line and got a solid air in, as did Iris Lazzareschi, earning them both the first ever Sick Bird Nominations for snowboarders!

Talking to CB local Mary Boddington during inspection she said, “Well, any other day I would just shoot down Slot Rocks, ride some pillows, and have fun!” And that is what she did, owning her run with style and pop. Mary placed third for the day behind Casey and Tess. Iris took fourth, and old-time competition favorite, Michelle Locke, rounded out the top five in qualifiers

Day two and finals for the 4-star brought me out to the mountain early. I must say it was heartbreaking not making the cut this time, but I really enjoyed the early morning steep pow turns to the venue in my sunglasses, gloveless, and coffee in hand. I posted up under a nice big tree with my camera and refreshed my photography degree skills while the ladies dropped in first on the venue Big Hourglass. The really awesome thing is that the area hasn’t been ridden or open in years, so the day was a true celebration of freeriding and powder.

Iris started her run off with a 360. “Two-year goal!” she said, high-fiving me after the comp. She had lots of style, powerful turns, and threw a method too! The stoke and progression put her onto the podium in third. Casey snuck into second place with some solid airs in the bottom of the venue after bobbling in her run, hitting unexpected rocks in the steeps. Since points from the two days were combined her outstanding performance on day one solidified a spot for her on the podium. But it was local girl Mary Boddington that really sealed the deal, absolutely crushing her line, moving quickly and fluidly, and taking a nice air for an overall first place, with the crowd roaring her whole run. The day could not have been more ideal for this veteran competitor. “Finally, I got a first here!” she said, all smiles.

In the afternoon, Iris and I did some more exploring of the extremes with one of the Junior Freeride competitors, Amber Nelson, who was absolutely sending it for being only 17. She actually ended up winning the Junior Snowboard event the next day! After the awards, we all danced to DJ Logic, then piled on the bus with all of the other competitors and partiers for some downtown Crested Butte action. Thanks Crested Butte public transportation!

I don’t know how many rocks I jumped over, or how many I landed on during my time in Crested Butte so far, but I had some of the best pow turns of my life! I also gained a much deeper appreciation and understanding for freeriding with limitless fluidity on steep, technical terrain, and had so much fun! Thank you to Crested Butte, the Vandervoort’s for being my host family, to Rob for being my personal guide, and to all my new and old friends for making the time so memorable here!

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4 Star Finals Day Venue: Hour Glass and Bermuda Triangle

2 Star Venue: Headwall

Casey Lucas sending it on Dead End Chutes.

Mary Boddington with some smooth sailing on Hour Glass.

The first ever lady snowboarder Sick Bird Nominations: Iris Lazz & Casey Lucas

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Mary got extreme, actually breaking her finger on the morning traverse before dropping into her final run!

2 Star Podium: Tiffany Noel, Marissa Krawczak; Leslie Glenn (not pictured)


Posted by Gabby Rainville on 04/28/14

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