Like a scene out of the movie Groundhog Day, day three of Red Bull Cold Rush dawned just like the previous two: sunny and blue in the quaint, quiet, and historic Silverton, Colorado.
The competition field of 15 men and 6 women ferried out via helicopter to the final venue of this year’s Red Bull Cold Rush: the “Cliffs” portion of the competition. Set in “Zone 7” at Silverton Mountain, the venue was comprised of four distinct cliff areas for competitors to choose from. Each skier had two runs and the starting order was reversed for the second run to be sure everyone had a fair chance at a fresh landing.
“That might have been the biggest I’ve ever gone off a cliff.” -Sean Pettit
Like the day before, so many mind-blowing things went down on skis that it’s nearly impossible to predict how the results of the rider judging will settle out after the athletes sit down to review the footage from the day.
Newcomer Leo Ahrens kicked things off by stomping a smooth 360 off of a solid 30-foot cliff. Shortly thereafter, last year’s Red Bull Cold Rush champion, Sean Pettit, held nothing back and launched off one of the bigger cliffs in the venue. Pettit floated a slow 360 over a set of pine trees and stomped the landing a good 70+ feet down from his take off. “That might have been the biggest I’ve ever gone off a cliff,” Pettit said afterwards.
Dane Tudor stuck a corked 720 off of the same cliff as the spectators and competitors below erupted in cheers. Grete Eliassen took a line off of a natural diving board and transitioned a smooth 360 into the gut of a chute coming down between cliffs. Jackie Paaso employed the classic “spread eagle” off of the same cliff Pettit and Tudor hit, again to an explosion of cheers from below.
In a scary moment of miscalculation, Alex Prochazka hucked a backflip off the 80-footer only to get hung up on a protruding tree sticking out from the cliff face, separating him from one of his skis 60 feet in the air and sending him head first into the snow. Luckily Alex was ok, and with a mouth full of snow, was able to wiggle out to safety on his own.
The second run of the day was no less impressive than the first. Josh Bibby and Alex Prochazka returned to hit the big 80-footer on the skier’s right of the venue, with a 360 and another big backflip, respectively. After another rough landing, Prochazka radioed up to Dave Treadway with a bit of advice, and Dave stuck the most laid-out backflip of the day off the rock face. “That’s possibly the biggest backflip I’ve ever done,” Treadway said, nearly echoing Pettit’s earlier statement.
Pettit took the same cliff on his second run as he did on his first, going for a very big cork 720, but he was not quite able to stick the landing. Grete Eliassen charged into a technical line on her second run, taking a solid, fast straight air over a 15-foot section of rocks.
Who Will Take the Title?
On the women’s side, Grete Eliassen will most likely take the Cliffs portion of the event, but the men’s results are really, no pun intended, up in the air. Skiers judge themselves after reviewing video in the evening and rank each other based on “overall impression.” Pettit, Treadway, and Tudor all stand a fair chance of taking this portion of Red Bull Cold Rush. Results will determine the overall winner of what has been a very close competition.
“It’s going to be a real noodle scratcher,” Sage Cattabriga-Alosa said. “We might need to watch the footage twice to be able to figure this out.”
Follow Grete Eliassen on Twitter for updates from Silverton this week.
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