A-Basin freeriders take two of top three spots
SNOWMASS – Considering the rocky steeps and cliffs to be found at Arapahoe Basin, it should come as no surprise that the skiers who call the area home are as talented as the terrain is demanding.It showed last weekend, as A-Basin Freeride Team veteran Paul Zaleski picked up a decisive win and rookie Ryan Banker took third at a Colorado Freeride Series competition in Snowmass.The big-mountain freeskiing event was held on the Burn Side Cliffs, a steep face littered with multi-tiered cliffs and trees, according to A-Basin spokeswoman Leigh Hierholzer. Competitors in the event were judged on difficulty of line, control, technique, fluidity and aggressiveness.Zaleski topped the field of 60-plus skiers on Saturday by skiing a highly technical line, first dropping 30 feet onto what seemed to be a postage stamp-sized landing, then connecting two more drops before a final 25-foot air. His final score of 132 points was eight points ahead of the runner-up.Air is not a judged category, but the line was among the highest-difficulty lines of the day due to the exposure and possible consequences if a fall had taken place. Rookie team member Ryan Banker skied one of the cleanest runs of the day, one that, like Zaleski’s, included multiple drops. He stomped his final landing off a high-speed, 25-foot air and was able to display subsequent speed control by making clean arcs into the finish. Judges rewarded him with a third-place score of 123 points.Both skiers plan on returning to Snowmass on March 10-11 for the series finale.Before that, however, the Basin’s freeride team travels to Crested Butte later this week for the world-renowned annual U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships. Members attending will be Zaleski, Banker, Gary Fondl and Darrell Haggard, Hierholzer said.
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