Riggins and Truss regain Powder 8 title on windy Peak 7
BRECKENRIDGE – It looked ominous Wednesday morning at the base of Peak 8, and about 40 competitors, patrollers, judges and support staff were debating if the 23rd annual Breckenridge Powder 8 Championships would go off.
The snow from a forecasted storm had seemingly begun, and the wind was about as gusty as it gets at Breckenridge and at the Peak 7 contest venue. But while the skiers discussed the viability of holding a visibility-dependent event on a socked-in day, the weather cleared. Oh, it was still windy and overcast, but the entire Peak 7 bowl was visible from below – enough to pick out sets of figure-eights as 18 teams of two laid them down as impeccably as possible in chalky, wind-blown snow.
“We didn’t know if we were going to get it off this morning or not,” said event organizer and competitor Rick Ascher. “There was some apprehension, for sure. Not everybody was into it at first. We thought a storm was going to be coming in. But we got a little bit of a window, and everybody was into doing it.”
The conditions made the adaptability prong of the judging criteria, which includes synchronicity, dynamic skiing, roundness of turns and most importantly, symmetry of tracks. In an event where perfection is the goal, the best runs Wednesday featured a lot of small recoveries.
“They’re not exactly the prettiest 8’s we’re leaving, but in tough conditions like that, I think everyone did pretty well just to get through it,” said Kerry Stanovsky, who placed fourth with partner Dan Cohen.
The 18 teams were whittled down to four after one run. Then, the final four went side-by-side in the semifinals and finals.
Stanovsky and Cohen dueled 2001 champions Tom Riggins and Tom Truss in one semifinal, and brothers Mike and Todd Saemish went up against John Horvath and Dan Rosenthal in the other.
The Saemishes stayed smooth to top Horvath and Rosenthal, and Truss and Riggins beat Stanovsky and Cohen.
Truss and Riggins and the Saemish brothers saved their best skiing for the final run, which took place on the bowl’s softest snow, in the east-facing Y Chute.
It was close. Both teams made skiing chunky snow look easy, and the judges awarded the win to Truss and Riggins.
Truss, a long-time teammate of Riggins, was the only out-of-towner in the field. He skis at Alta, Utah, but comes to Breck every year for this event.
“Everybody calls me his ringer,” Truss said. “We’ve been skiing Powder 8’s together for a long time. We won two years ago, and once you get that taste, you want to come back. That Colorado trophy is something. There’s a lot of big names on that trophy. It’s kind of a legendary thing now.”
The Saemish brothers, Littleton skiers who have been coming to Breckenridge since the mountain opened, have skied in the Powder 8 Championships for nearly its entire 23-year run. They’ve never come closer to winning than they did Wednesday.
“We’ll win it one of these years,” said Todd Saemish.
Horvath and Rosenthal beat Stanovsky and Cohen in the consolation final to take third place.
Ascher and partner Paul Krauss came in as the defending champions but finished one spot off the semifinal cut in fifth. Just getting the contest off in marginal conditions, however, made Ascher’s day a success.
“It does kind of take away from my skiing a little bit because I have to focus on getting this thing organized, and it came together really well,” Ascher said. “I had a lot of help with the judges, the Breckenridge Ski Area, the Breckenridge ski patrol. Those guys took a lot of weight off my shoulders.”
Cash and prizes were awarded to the top four at the after-party at Fatty’s.
Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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