Comprised of an incredible natural amphitheater, Colorado's Silverton Mountain saw skiing on a whole new level today during the kickoff of the 5th Red Bull Cold Rush event. After four successful years in British Columbia, Canada, the move to the San Juan Mountain in the U.S. proved to be a huge success with steep lines, narrow couloirs, and deep pow welcoming the athletes.
Last year’s men’s winner, Sean Pettit, arrived in Silverton yesterday for the very first time. “Obviously I’m thrilled to be at Cold Rush this year,” Pettit said. “I’m really stoked to a have a venue change. I had heard about Silverton Mountain’s terrain; but seeing it in person, I’m really impressed.”
Picking Big Mountain Lines
Around 11 a.m., skiers began to enter the Pequenos and Grande Couloirs. Suz Graham, last year’s women’s champion, dropped in first, skiing a very strong line that included a mandatory 20-foot exit air she stomped cleanly into the runout. Grete Eliassen (2nd in 2010) took a tight entrance into the 3rd Pequeno couloir and ticked off another solid run.
“Some of the women threw down on a level I think was comparable to the men,” Silverton Mountain’s owner Aaron Brill said. “That was really great to see.”
Red Bull Cold Rush newcomer Alex Prochazka, known for his steep and technical lines in the professional mountain biking world, also slid into the tight entrance of the Third Pequeno, skiing fast and immediately launching a backflip off a rocky spine followed up with a huge backflip off a windlip down low, which he stomped. The tricky Colorado snowpack struck Prochazka on the run-out however, as he hit a hidden rock that ripped one of his skis off.
Sean Pettit charged a fast line in the Third Pequeno, getting air multiple times on the way down and sending a large, slow 360 off the lower windlip.
When the competition shifted over to a zone called The Gnar Couloir, some more technical lines, many first descents, and never-before-seen combos went down at Silverton Mountain, according to Brill.
Notable performances came from Dane Tudor, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, 16-year old Logan Pehota and Dave Treadway. Finishing second in the 2010 Red Bull Cold Rush, Treadway linked a route down a face on The Gnar Couloir no other competitor ventured into. It included significant exposure and a mandatory 50+foot air out at the bottom.
Competitors will review video of everyone’s runs nightly at the historic Grand Imperial Hotel in Silverton and will place a secret vote for who they think performed the best. Results will be tallied at the end of the three-stage competition to determine an overall men's and women's winner.
Tuesday, the athletes will venture into the “Mando” area at Silverton Mountain where legendary freeskier Pep Fujas has spent two weeks with a 14-man crew sculpting four large jumps that will encompass the Slopestyle portion of the event.
- Check out the Red Bull Cold Rush Day 1 photo gallery
- Recap videos from Red Bull Cold Rush in 2009 and 2010
- Hit the Red Bull Cold Rush 2011 page for the latest updates