Max the man! Mancini wins 2nd tele title in two days |

Max the man! Mancini wins 2nd tele title in two days

DEVON O'NEILsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Russell Pongonis goes inverted on his second run of the slopestyle competition at the Telemark Nationals at Copper Mountain Sunday afternoon. Pongonis took 13th, while Breck skier Max Mancini won.

COPPER MOUNTAIN – His skiing talent kept him away last year, and the same talent made him the brightest star this year.A day after winning the telecross competition at the Telemark Nationals at Copper Mountain, Breckenridge skier Max Mancini made it two titles in two days with a win in the slopestyle competition on Saturday.Mancini missed the Nationals last year while filming for Warren Miller’s “Impact,” his biggest role yet in a ski film. This year, however, he was available to compete and made the most of his time.Mancini won with his first-run score of 7.40 on Saturday, a clean trip through the Catalyst Terrain Park that featured an impressive combination of switch tricks.Lake Tahoe’s Ty Dayberry took second with a score of 6.62, and Andrew Still-Baxter, of the Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, took third with 6.13 points.

The key for Mancini, aside from the breakfast burrito that fueled him, was keeping his head.”You just gotta go out there and have fun,” he said. “Because if you’re nervous and worried, you’re not going to do well.”Having fun on Saturday meant opening up with a backward-heavy run. Mancini did a 540 and landed switch off the top jump, followed by a switch 360 off the second hit, then a switch “0” (no spin) off the final big kicker, and a 360 off the bottom “hip” hit.The dominant two-day performance came after he took 26th in his slopestyle qualifier heat of 40 at the U.S. Freeskiing Open in Vail on Thursday. He was one of only a few freeheelers in the 160-skier field.Among other local finishers on Saturday, Copper Freeride Team member Ben Dolenc – Mancini’s roommate – took ninth and Brian Moon, of Silverthorne, finished 10th.

Moon’s day included a pair of 1080 attempts. He landed the first despite a slight bobble – the first documented 1080 on telemark skis, he said – but smacked the ground with his face on the second and walked away with blood dripping onto the snow at a healthy rate.”I just decided to hang it out there and make it happen. You gotta do it when it counts,” he said of the spectacular crash. “I didn’t even see the ground coming. When I hit, I just compressed and smashed my face into the ground.”Matt Cahn won the junior men’s division with a score of 4.16, followed by Chris Olearain (3.38) and Matthew Heiserman (2.80).Only two female competitors took part in the slopestyle, but both were locals. Breck’s Jozy Gessner, 14, competed in the junior women’s division, while Silverthorne’s Erin Young, 18, filled out the open women’s class.Gessner’s 2.43 score topped Young’s 1.28, and afterward the younger of the two said it was simply nice to be competing in a telemark-specific freestyle competition.

“Before, I was just competing with alpiners on my teles,” said Gessner, a promising and fearless youngster who has been freeheeling for seven years and also competes in grueling mountain bike competitions in the summers.Gessner made a name for herself two years ago by entering the hard-core Enduro at A-Basin, a 10-hour ski-till-you-can’t contest held on the steeps off the Palivacinni chair.Finish line: For the second straight day, the defending champ was injured and unable to compete. Jack Tolan was relegated to judging due to a broken collarbone … Saturday night the top 10 slopestyle finishers took part in a big air competition at the Burning Stones Plaza base area … Despite the “Nationals” billing, the event suffered from low numbers. Only 22 total skiers competed in Friday’s telecross and 21 took part in Saturday’s slopestyle.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at

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