New Mexico, not the first place that comes to mind when you think of big mountains, great snow, and extreme terrain. But it should be. The Taos Valley is beautifully dramatic, rising from around 6,000ft in town to the top of the peaks around 13,000ft which tower above the valley below giving expansive views in every direction.
Like the rest of North America they have been having an absolutely stellar season. Needless to say, all of the athletes were fired up to arrive for the contest knowing there was good coverage and some fresh snowfall. The day one venue for the qualifying round into finals took place on West Basin, which is a fun technical zone, including some steep rocky areas and tight chutes. I found my line relatively quickly during inspection, and was truly looking forward to riding it.
We were greeted by the warm New Mexico sunshine the morning of the contest, so warm in fact that I was able to ride in just my sweatshirt, which is my favorite snowboarding attire. Women snowboarders were the first group to go and I dropped in somewhere near the end of the pack. I put in my headphones and was fired up to drop in and ride my line. Feeling confident about knowing exactly where to go, I made quick work of the run, tried to look fluid, nailed my bottom air and I think the judges could tell I was having a ton of fun while doing so. There were so many strong runs from all of the girls it was a great show to watch and I was elated to qualify 1st for the finals day.
We were really hoping to ride Kachina Peak for the finals venue. All of the athletes couldn't stop talking about how great that venue would be for the final and I know that the event organizers really went to bat for us trying to make that happen. Unfortunately the new CEO of Taos didn't allow it because they didn't want to shut down that venue to the public which was extremely disappointing. That being said a big thank you is in order to Kaela and Tom whom organized the event and really went out of their way to try to get that venue for us!
Another incredibly warm and sunny day welcomed us first thing in the morning the following day for finals. Again, women snowboarders were the first group to drop and I was the last person to drop in. Since we were unable to have a different venue, we competed again on West Basin, so I rode the same line I did the day before. Since I had already rode the line and scored well on it, I was feeling extra calm and excited to ride it again. The run flew by, I stayed on my feet and was so excited to have finished the day on a strong note and watch the rest of the show. Some unbelievable runs went down, and I can't say enough good things about how hard these athletes work and put themselves on the line sending it off huge cliffs, tight trees, shoots, and some relatively tough landings. The day wrapped up and awards took place around 6 pm, and I couldn't believe I was standing on top of the podium with another 1st place finish! Congrats to all of the girls for riding so hard and inspiring me to push my riding as well. Thank you again to Taos for hosting the event along with all of the event organizers and volunteers. And a BIG thank you to my sponsors for their continued support in this chase for the Freeride World Tour spot, as well as my family and friends both old and new! Off to Kicking Horse tomorrow for the next stop of the tour.