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A Day of Utter Chaos: McConkey Leads
December 18, 1999

The first day of the Jonny Moseley Invitational was a free-for-all — freeskiers and freestylers battled it out through two rounds of skiercross and one round of big air. Freeskiers and freestylers — separate species or the same? I haven't figured it out yet. But put them on a boardercross course, flash back to the Chinese Downhill, sit Glen Plake in the judges panel and the rest is chaos...I mean, history...or is it the future?

Jonny Moseley
Spin Cycle

The day started off with two rounds of skiercross. Shane McConkey, currently in 1st place after Saturday's events, pulled way out in front in both skiercross rounds. Before the race, he jokingly removed a bit of debris from his starting gate, which possibly could have made a bit of a difference. "This thing could take 2/100 of a second off your time," McConkey said. But the truth is, he gained the lead fast, kept it, and cleared a key jump with a low-flying, long-sailing lead ahead of the pack. He also took 1st in round one of the big air with a switch backflip over the road-gap style kicker.

Last year's winner, Evan Dybvig, and host, Jonny Moseley are currently tied for 2nd — an achievement in itself made even more impressive by the fact that they drove all night from Steamboat to Salt Lake City, hopped on a flight to Reno, arrived at Squaw this morning and tied with 66 points each.

"There's a science to chopping a landing; you chop it, then you pack it down. I'm sick of people getting hurt on these hard landings...." —Glen Plake

Evan Raps, currently in fourth place, finished 2nd in both skiercross heats and 1st in his big air heat against Shane Szocs, Shane Anderson and JT Holmes. Other skiers who placed 1st in their big air heats: Mike Douglas, Skogan Sprang and CR Johnson. In the eight skiercross heats so far, McConkey won two, Moseley two, Dybvig two, and Kent Krietler and Curtis Tischler each won one.

In the round-robin format, skiers go for points. Nobody is eliminated until the finals. In skiercross, there are three rounds of four heats each, with four skiers in each heat. Skiers receive points for their finish position. The big air event also has three rounds before the finals. After three rounds in both skiercross and big air, the four highest overall points winners will move into Sunday's finals.

Before the big air, Plake led a crew of competitors and friends who prepared the landing zone of the gap jump. Hard, icy conditions initially left the landing zone bullet-proof. But Plake and the crew chopped and worked the course, packing it down in order to remain firm while absorbing landings, thus making it safer.

"Freestyle figured this out a long time ago. There's a science to chopping a landing; you chop it, then you pack it down. I'm sick of people getting hurt on these hard landings," said Plake. But there were no athlete injuries today. A camera man standing close the landing zone was hit but is reported to be okay. CR Johnson did not jump in round one of the big air but plans to have a go at it tomorrow.

The crowd was amped to watch the skiers go off to music supplied by from Southern California. This weekend, music accompanies everything. Later in the evening, DJ Ted Shred shared his spinning talents and bidders bet on the best mouse to win the "Mouseley Invitational" after dinner.

Sunday's forecast is for sunny, blue skies and warmer temperatures. Stay tuned for what should be another amazing day.

— Michelle Quigley, wagering on mice for

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