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Freeski Tour '99

»Big Mountain
Red Bull Huckfest
Skiers and Boarders Went Head-to-Head
Sunday, January 31, 2000

Skiers and Snowboarders went for big air and style at the Red Bull Huckfest in Snowbird, Utah, in which the prize purse totaled $20,000. Phillipe Belanger, of the renowned Canadian "Les Trois Phillipes" from Quebec, took the skier's field while Jason Borgstede, from Alpenglow, AK, won the snowboarding event.

Phillipe Belanger
"Everybody is just so good right now," said Belanger. "In a few years it's going to be all about the style because now it's just like so many people can do so many great things." Belanger beat Skogen Sprang from Alpine Meadows, CA, in the finals.

In the ski finals, Belanger hit two good jumps in a row to beat Sprang. Tim McKeever took third after losing to Belanger in the semi-finals, and Shimo, a skier from Sapporo, Japan, was 4th.

"If it's what you want and it's in your heart then don't let anything get in your way and distract you...."— Jason Borgstede

The Huckfest started with 16 skiers and 16 snowboarders. The first round brought the field down to eight in a best two out of three. After round two, eight were whittled down to four competitors through single elimination in the semi-finals. A consolation round determined 3rd and 4th place while the two finalists went back to a best two out of three for the overall head-to-head win.

"It just comes down to the competition where you know it's the luck of the draw for the day, whether you're on it or whether you're feeling good or bad or whether you land it," said 2nd place finisher Sprang. "And then other than that we're just having fun all of the other days together and pushing each other to learn new tricks for the next competition."

In the snowboarding event, Borgstede moved into the finals against local Marc Frank Montoya from Snowbird. They went two out of three before Borgstede took 1st and the $4,000 prize. Stephan Babler, from Crested Butte, CO was 3rd and Snowbird's Mike Basich was 4th.

Borgstede, who has been snowboarding for 11 years, made it through the semi-finals with a switch 720. For training, he says he just jumps all the time. And he knew he had to do something big in the finals against Montoya. "Mark, he's super good. I've ridden with him in Juneau and seen him stomp stuff that you didn't think would be able to go that big and stomp, so I had to do something big, you know. I did a backside 900 tail grab and then a backside rodeo in the quarterpipe. Last run I tried to do a backside rodeo seven get all trickie, but it didn't really work out so I couldn't let him catch me, I had to do what I could do," said Borgstede

What advice does Borgstede have for young snowboarders?

"If it's what you want and it's in your heart then don't let anything get in your way and distract you," Borgstede said. "You know, like things I can think of are drugs and partying and all that crap. It's just like you've got to figure out what your goal is and what you really want in life and then make that the priority. That's why I don't do a bunch of other crap because it just gets in the way."

Gary Pinnell, a ski patroller at Snowbird for 17 years, had this to say about the skiers and snowboarders competing here. "The caliber of the athlete that's here is high end, so we're not really worried about them getting hurt. It's pretty well organized so, from our standpoint, we're set up and ready for rescue, but these guys are good and they know how to fall, they know where they are in the air.

"That guy who did the 720 was pretty neat," Pinnell continued. "He did a 720 and he could have been drinking a cup of coffee on his way around. He was that quiet upstairs."

In judging this event, the trick and amplitude matter as far as difficulty goes. But according to competitor JT Holmes, the judges want to see people landing on the transition. "They don't want to see people going too big or too small," Holmes said. "Style is holding a grab rather than just reaching for it and missing, or being really still. Like if you watched Skogen jump, he was really still the whole time. He wasn't laboring for anything and he also was doing a pretty difficult trick."

The format for judging is loose, and judges are looking for each skier or snowboarder to have his or her own individual style. "If we went and got all structured then there would be a definite style that won," continued Holmes, who judged the Big Air event at the 2000 Gravity Games. "That's why the head-to-head format works so well. Like people were doing completely different grabs — one guy will do a completely different grab than the next guy — one guy won't grab, and it's not like we care. If you don't grab and you just do something super smooth and your body is not laboring to do the trick then you're going to get rewarded for that."

Spectators lined the venue, and filmmakers and photographers staked the money shots. And skiers and snowboarders weren't the only ones getting air — paragliders flew overhead throughout the day, making the top of the QP their LZ.

— Michelle Quigley, hucking stories for

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