Extreme skiers and boarders prepare for big mountain competition at Moonlight

MOONLIGHT BASIN – For the next two weeks Moonlight Basin will be flooded by a horde of the best big-mountain skiers and snowboarders in the Rocky Mountain territory, who have arrived on the tail of what may be the best storm of the season, hoping to prove themselves as experts during back-to-back freeride competitions.

This weekend the resort will host the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier, where skiers will hike their A-game up to the Headwaters to ski their best line somewhere between the Cold Springs and Class 6 routes.

Pat Gannon is the head coach of the Moonlight freeride team, and he’s been anxiously awaiting this competition as a way of showcasing the terrain as well as the local talent.

“It’s just big mountain technical terrain,” Gannon said of the expert only routes found up on the Headwaters. “It has super technical tight lines which is a huge part of big mountain freeriding these days.”

The Subaru event kicks off Thursday, March 22 with athlete registration and inspection of the competition venue. This is essentially the time for riders who are new to the area to get out and see what they’re getting into before the judging actually starts. Competition takes place Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. followed by an athlete meeting at 4:30. Saturday’s contest begins just after 9 a.m. with finals scheduled for 1:30-2:30 p.m. and awards at 4:30 p.m. at the Madison Village. Spectators will be able to watch the competition from Stillwater Bowl.

As time winds down to the big day, Gannon happily watches the lines fill in with fresh snow, but he’s not telling anyone his plan of attack.

“For me, it depends on the day and what I’m feeling like,” he said. “I think there is going to be some sickness going on.”

The event had originally been scheduled to take place in January but was postponed due to lack of snow. Event director Brian Barlow said in a January press release that pushing the event back to the end of the season would allow for the conditions the athletes need to take full advantage of the terrains potential.

“The quality of the event wouldn’t be what we had envisioned without the proper coverage,” Barlow said.

And if the hard-core ski bums migrating to the area this weekend can’t get enough of an adrenaline rush, the mountain will host the 7th Annual Headwaters Spring Runoff the following weekend of March 31. Similar to the Subaru event, the Headwaters Runoff attracts skiers, snowboarders and telemarkers to test their mettle against some of the steepest in-bound terrain in the country. For more information, visit moonlightbasin.com.

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