Martha Stewart's Holiday Calendar

Pickled Think


Bar Tender Survey

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Coffee

Chick Chat

LO-FI Breaks it Down

Eat at Home on Main Street

Comics & Images

Phat Tat

Ski Bums


Extreme Blackcomb

by jim moran

The year was 1999, and the location was Blackcomb, British Columbia. I had spent the last six years on the US Ski Team, so I felt it was time for something new. There was an event that was going on called the World Tour of Extreme Skiing. I made the trip up to B.C. to see how I could do in this type of competition.

I had always loved Blackcomb, but I was a bit nervous because I did not know how I would stack up. I felt that I was decent in the backcountry, but the last thing I wanted to happen was to suck and make the US Ski Team look bad.

Since I had never competed in extreme skiing, the first day was a qualifier for me. It is critical in extreme skiing to weed out the people that can't ski on more difficult terrain. I realized this, and did not want to mess up my event before it even began.

The day of the event was odd; the freezing line was right across the middle of the run. The top of the course was a bit frozen with less than an inch of snow. The bottom was punchy and wet. I decided that a huge air route was not wise, so I made nice carving turns around some bushes at the top. I got some air, but only from a five-foot bush.

Then I figured I would find some bigger air, so I headed in the direction of a 10-foot and 25-foot cliff sequence. I skied through the trees then over the 10-footer with control. Then I punched it on the 25-footer. I got in the front seat, but made it look like it wasn't a mistake. I hit a bunch of rolling hill areas, and then found myself at the bottom.

It was enough to qualify me, but it didn't matter because all the scores would be thrown away for the World Tour event the next day.

When it arrived, they had the event on the Sudan Couloir, which in town is known as a pretty tough run. I went up to scope out my line. In extreme skiing, that is something you have to do-unless you don't mind getting trapped, then dying trying to get out.

I had picked a sick line that I thought no one would go near. I was wrong. About 10 people went right next to it. I was skiing through a bunch of rocks and steeps cutting over toward the difficult section that I thought no one would touch. It looked like nobody had jumped off the cliff. They all skied to the right in another very technical area.

I pointed 'em right off the top of the cliff, and with my speed of entrance, my planned 40-footer turned into a huge 55-footer. When I landed, I punched forward hard and did about four summersaults. In extreme skiing they don't kill you for a fall; they just mark you off for control, and fluidity. I guess they liked the run despite the fall, because I still got 23rd. The top 25 people qualified for the finals.

The day had come to see what we could do on the most difficult terrain. I was still pissed at myself for crashing the day before. We had all scoped it out. It was time to show our stuff. I was in the gate, and the starter, Jack, was getting me all psyched to get going.

I left the gate, and was ready for action. I immediately went to a small 25-footer, and stuck it. Then I figured I would throw a bit of freestyle into my run. I did a reversal on the wall that was opposite the 25-footer. Then I skied through some five-foot rocks. They were perfectly spaced for me to hit every one with a carved turn to the next rock.

Then it was time for a traverse over to the big daddy cliff. It was approximately 65 feet high, and I stuck the hell out of it. I then had to just make some nice turns through a flat section, and then some more through a steep icy section.

I finished my run with a 35-foot drop. I was thinking to myself "Wow I just stuck that whole run!"

It turns out that the judges liked my run a lot. I won the day's event by 6.5 points. In extreme skiing that is quite a bit. It moved my overall score from 23rd all the way to third place.

For my first extreme competition, I could definitely live with third.