I headed up to Okemo to do a little skiing and watch the exciting East Coast Freeskiing Open at Okemo again this year. This is a really great event and The Ski Bum News has covered it ever since it began last year. The East Coast Freeskiing Open offered well-known and up-and-coming athletes the opportunity to compete for $25,000 in cash and prizes. The top three finishers from each competition at the East Coast Freeskiing Open are guaranteed a spot in the 2006 U.S. Freeskiing Open, widely considered the most prestigious event in the sport. These new events called Freeriding or Freeskiing believes in no rules, no holds barred, and has been described as a “no common sense brand of athletics,” by some people. These dare-devils throw SICK tricks and their stunts were more than breathtaking spectacles at the East Coast Open at Okemo.

When I got off the chair, this ski bum who takes photos at the top of the chair asked me If I’d like a photo. I said sure and then I took a photo of HIM!

The Men’s and Women’s Slopestyle events were held on Friday, March 4th and Maxime Vanier of Saint Basile La Grand, Quebec took first place in Men’s Slopestyle and won the $2,000 cash prize. Richie Paradise from Concord, NH was 2nd, Chris Logan, Centre, MA was 3rd, and Colby West, Canterbury, NH was 4th. For the women, it was Laura Cevoli of Monroe, New York who placed first, taking home $1,000 cash prize. Heather LaHart, Worcester, MA was 2nd

Emily Bennett, London, ON, Canada was 3rd and Iris Dougherty, Pittsfield, VT was 4th

These SICK puppies took off from the start and hit a series of jumps, a tabletops, rails and obstacles down through the course. Slopestyle is one of the most dynamic and exciting events to watch and makes slalom and giant look dull by comparison. Skiers fly through a massive terrain park which consists of different shaped jumps table tops, hips, and metal rails over a 5000 yard course. Competitors are judged on air, style, tricks and overall impression on two runs.

On Sunday, March 6 they held the final day of competition with a Superpipe competition during the day and a nighttime Red Bull Rail Jam. Brent Abrams of South Lake Tahoe, California took first place in men’s Superpipe, claiming the $2,000 cash prize. Last year, Brent took 3rd but this time he was the big winner. On his final ride, he really got some great amplitude and flawlessly executing a safety grab, 900 mute, flair safety grab, 1080, switch zero spin safety grab, wowing the crowd.

Riders unleashed a plethora of sick tricks including tailgrabs, nosegrabs, mootgrabs, alley-oop safety grab, cork 900s, alley-oop 540s and McTwists, 720s, handstands, and more. Colby West, Canterbury, NH was 2nd, Henrik Lampert, Manchester, MA was 3rd and Devon Fenske, Medford, NJ was 4th

Jess Cumming, Snowmass, CO was the winner for the women, Ashley Suba, from Waterville Valley, NH was 2nd, and Denise Jawosky, Montreal, QB, Canada was 3rd

The excitement continued well into the night with the Red Bull Rail Jam, where Philip Casabon of Grand-Mere, Quebec took first in the Men’s division Chris Culnane, Stratton, VT was 2nd and Nick Martini, Winchester, MA was 3rd. Denise Jawosky of Montreal, Quebec placing first in the Women’s division with Beth Maney placing 2nd and Ashley Suba, Waterville Valley, NH 3rd. These fine athletes hopped on rails and took big hits on tabletops to ride to victory.

The next day, they held the Crossmax but mother nature decided not to cooperate. It began to snow and visibility was not as good as it was the day before when the sunshine made of a great day of competition. Skiers raced head to head in heats of four skiers zooming down a race course filled with rollers, jumps, birm turns, and table tops with the top two advancing to later rounds until a final round of four is established for the finals. The eliminations continued until there is just one winner. The action will begin at 9:00 am and continued as the snow flurries increased. Skiers diced it out going down the course exchanging elbows when someone gets in their way.

For the men, it was: Tyler Shephard, Boulder, CO in 1st, Ryan McCullough, Crested Butte, CO 2nd, Corley Howard, Kirkwood, CA 3rd, Brian Long, Everett, WA 4th and Heikki Hall, Lake Placid, NY finishing 5th

For the women: Brett Buckles from Boulder, CO won the event with Anna Prchal from Montreal, QB, Canada placing 2nd, Sara- Maude Boucher, St Denis, QC, Canada was 3rd, and Myriam Lefort, from Mt. St. Hilaire, Canada in 4th.