Thanks to one of our regional riders Morgan Hebert for putting together a recap from last week at The North Face Masters.
TNF Masters of Snowboarding: one of the few freeride contests out there for snowboarding and a way to express natural talent in your given surroundings. As the biggest freeride tour in the U.S. it attracts a very unique blend of up & coming riders mixed with some of the best. I was fortunate enough to be involved last week as the first stop went down at Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington. We were blessed with fresh snow and good weather (for the qualifiers at least.) Showing up on Tuesday brought 4-6" of new snow to the mountain as everyone ripped around and enjoyed a good time. Smiles were had by all as we waited for the solid crust to get covered up and soften for the qualifiers the next day.Qualifiers were a riot as people were sending it off into less than ideal conditions. Some nice runs were put down and in the end they cut half the field from both the women's and men's categories. I ended up going for the conservative line; throwing a few small airs making sure to ride down and make it to the bottom without any bobbles. This strategy nailed me a spot for the finals on the unscathed "King" face which is a bigger more exposed peak. All in all I ended up qualifying in 19th.
As weather moved in making the first day on the King challenging they had to split up the women's and men's final run days. The women rode strong and made the anticipation for the next day high. Battling bad visibility and variable rocky conditions they made the 6"-12" that fell on the face look heavenly. That left them to have a good time and party while the men had to rest up that night in hopes of having a weather window to compete the following day. Waking up the next morning we got ourselves warmed up for the prepublic load on the chairs at 8:00am. In making our way over a traverse and out the ridge to the king brought the stoke factor up as weather didn't seem to be getting worse(but it wasn't great either.) As the first few riders dropped in sending big cliffs and technical lines the face could be seen only about 3/4 of the way up. As competitors started to run things got better though and judges could see full runs instead of having the drop-ins called down by relayers up top. By the time I went, near the end of the pack, the classic Washington rain and thick fog had lifted for the most part & produced a clean top to bottom visual. I was stoked.
Making my way down a double pepper exposed line I cracked a few airs and found a couple of sizable drops trying to link it all together and ride fast. If only I wouldn't have shown off on a big heelside turn towards the bottom I might have kept from making a small check and got a bit of a higher place. But as it was I ended up in 11th which wasn't too bad considering the roster of riders I was up against. I was happy with how my run felt and left humbled as many riders were that day up on the king. It's not the people you're competing against but more yourself.
In the end it was a good time and a rad way to get together with a bunch of friends. I got to go rip around at a new mountain that I'm not riding at most of the season and check out new features, which is one of my favorite parts of these comps. Look for more of me during the upcoming North Face Masters Kirkwood, CA stop coming up March 1-5 and the Tailgate King of the Hill contest in Thompson Pass, AK April 1-12