The Limelight: Mic Obleski vs. the big mountain
February 17, 2017
Ask skier Mic Obleski about the perfect big-mountain line and he'll describe something that's a cross between Reine Barkered's airtime, George Rodney's impossible speed and Tanner Rainville's gutsy line selection.
"I'm looking for a lot of airs with good size, but not the biggest stuff out there," Obleski told me during a day of training with Chris Hawks, his coach with Team Summit Colorado. "I just want lots of airs with good skiing in between."
Then he paused, listed off those three skiers as a few of his favorites, and thought for a second or two longer.
"But hey," he continued, "If it's the right day, I might go out for the big stuff."
On Feb. 9 at Taos Ski Valley, Obleski put down the right run on the right day with the big stuff to finish second overall in the men's 15-18 division at the Taos 2017 Junior Regionals big-mountain contest. The 17-year-old from Denver was the top Team Summit finisher there, besting five teammates and 16 skiers from across the West. He's an avid student of the sport and his Taos run proved it, packed with 360s, straight airs and confident skiing. He fell to first-place finisher Turner Peterson of Crested Butte by less than a point — one of the slimmest margins for a podium that weekend.
"I love how much fun competitions are," Obleski said a few weeks before the Taos contest. "I get to see cool resorts, and when you have that good competition — when you have that good result — it's the best feeling in the world."
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Obleski is riding high at the moment, but the season is far from finished. He has at least two contests remaining before a junior champion is crowned, including the 2017 GoPro Big Mountain Challenge on home turf at Six Senses, the nasty, 40-degree chutes and cliffs on the ridge between Peak 6 and Peak 7. Until then, he'll continue working on 360 spins over anything and everything, no matter the size, along with basics like fine-tuning his form and style.
It only helps he has nearly a lifetime of experience on the hill. Obleski has been skiing since 3 years old, and when formal big-mountain skiing started to explode about six or seven years back, he jumped at the chance to train with a former pro like Hawks. After spending the week attending class at Denver South High School, he drives to Breckenridge on Thursday night and spends three days skiing with Team Summit. In between, he eats up every ski video he can: DVDs, online edits, even past winning (and losing) runs from the sport's world championships.
The only thing he can't train for: the seconds between the contest countdown and his first turns.
"For me, the toughest part is that they give you a countdown — one, two, three and drop — and you have to be on it," Obleski said. "There's no warm-up. You've got to be there, in the then and now."
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