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Vol. 1 No. 5

A Basin Comp

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In only it's 3rd year, the A Basin Telemark Freeskiing Championships has become THE place to see progressive tele skiing on display. Organized by Nat Ross, the 2000 event attracted over 100 competitors. Descender caught up with Luke Miller to talk about this year's comp, and the growing Colorado progressive tele scene ...

Descender: How was the turnout for this year's Tele Freeride Champs? Stronger than previous?

LM: There were a lot of familiar faces at the comp this year. I think the biggest difference between this year and last year was the level of skiing. People have really stepped it up this year! There were a few more than last year, but more or less the same number.

D: Over 100 folks registered! Why do you think the event has such a great turnout?

LM: I think people come to the A-Basin comp for a lot of reasons. For some, it's a chance to test themselves against other skiers, for others, it's just a chance to take part in a great event with cool energy. For me, it's a combination of the two. I really love the level of enthusiasm that builds up with so many great skiers in one place. Everyone gets so psyched. I also really like the opportunity to test my skills in competition. I still get nervous in these events, so it's good for me. The group of guys & girls who form the core of the competition scene are really great people, and especially among the guys, there is great desire to push each other to new levels. It's cool.

D: Describe the lines people were skiing...

LM: Sick. Lines were skied on the East Wall that have never been skied before. Really impressive! It's almost hard to describe how much people have improved over the last year.

D: What tricks were people throwing?

LM: Not much in the way of tricks. There were no inverts allowed in the comps, so flips were out, and the snow was no good for switch, though Scott Murray, Justin Machus & I did 180's into the finish on Day 1.

D: What were the contest highlights?

LM: When Caleb Melamed went rock climbing to get the official "Holy shit where Is he going" award; Squirrel pieced together a nearly impossible line of billy-goat drops and tight bony chutes; Scott Murray spun a heli off a 30+ footer & stuck it; Rob McRae hucked two huge drops in Corner chute each of them close to 50 feet.

D: Steamboat locals placed high in the contest, has that traditionally been a hotbed for tele in CO?

LM: Yeah, the Boat has had some great tele skiers over the past few years. It has such a rep for being a flat area, but they have some great backcountry and a good park too.

D: Let's talk a little more about the CO tele scene. Crested Butte has a big reputation as an early tele hotbed...

LM: The Butte is a major tele hub. That's where I learned a lot about my skiing. I lived in Gunnison for a few years, and there were always sick pinheads up there. I think Scott Murray is definitely king of the hill there!

D: You live in Boulder; how do Denver and the front range cities contribute to the tele scene?

LM: There is a huge front range contingent that makes up the "meat & potatoes" of the CO tele scene. Loveland and Eldora sometimes see as many tele skiers as alpine skiers! However, of the "hard-core" group, few of them are front range dwellers. The commute just isn't conducive to spending a lot of time on the hill. The only reason I can swing it is with the strong support from PlanetOutdoors.com, where I work.

D: Where else is tele strong?

LM: Summit county, TRide, Vail, etc. I think Summit, Steamboat and the Butte hold the strongest tele scenes. Certainly most of the events are in Summit. There are rippers all over. The CRMS kids in Carbondale are a prime example. Those guys are awesome.

D: How was the vibe at the after comp party? Was there a feeling of affirmation that tele freeski is a valid pursuit?

LM: The party didn't go off as much as it did last year. Partly because after two days of competition and some hard hiking on day 2, people were whooped. Plus, it being a Sunday, a lot of folks had to drive home that night. However, the vibe while it was there was intense. A ton of energy for tele freeskiing, competition and the whole scene in general. Freeheel contests are maturing.

D: How has the event changed since you've been involved?

LM: It's really cool to see the scene growing. Really, just a few years ago, there was no freeskiing scene for tele, so we've come a long way already. For me, I've been involved in tele for a long time, and it's amazing to me to see what has changed. Our gear is better, the energy is higher, and people are ripping. There was a cool thing going on in the eighties, but it was more focused on racing and bump comps. The same kind revolution that existed then exists now, but stronger. We're definitely in the middle of a major tele-revolution.

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