FILE UNDER -- Freestyle

Snowbird: Ogden, Greener claim freeskiing national titles

Snowbird: Ogden, Greener claim freeskiing national titles{mosimage}The ninth annual Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals concluded Saturday, with 49 top competitors from around the world gunning for a $12,500 prize purse. The clouds that had settled in all week lifted for the finals, leaving 35 men and 14 women to compete under clear skies and howling winds.

Champions were crowned on Snowbird’s Tram Plaza deck, with more than 1,000 roaring fans and a live set by DJ Knuckles. Libby Bittner of Snowbird came from seventh place in the semifinals to take third, behind Lynn Kennen of Alpine Meadows, Calif., in second. A fired-up Laura Ogden of Whistler, B.C., was named 2006 Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals champion.

‘It’s so amazing’ said Ogden. ‘I just picked a line that fit my style and tried to ski it as fast as possible. That’s what the judges want to see, and fast is much more fun.’

In men’s competition, consistency was key, with final results being a cumulative score of one run in Friday’s semis and two runs in the finals. Christian Boucher of Whistler, B.C., who had skied the most aggressive lines of the day, was in the lead coming into the final run. However, Boucher went too hard and blew up on landing, leaving the door wide-open. With clean, technical runs all weekend and a big, fast final line, local favorite Nick Greener claimed the 2006 championship.

‘I’m really bummed that Christian [Boucher] fell’ said Greener in a display of sportsmanship. ‘I wanted him to win. But of course, victory at my home mountain is incredible. I just skied how I always do here. Snowbird is an amazing training ground.’

Although Boucher couldn’t hold on to victory, his hard-charging approach earned him the coveted ‘Sickbird’ award, which goes to the athletes who are pushing limits harder than anyone. Organizers also gave an unprecedented second Sickbird award to Stacy Cash of Snowbird, whose aggressive skiing left judges in awe.

‘She skied so much faster than any other woman all weekend’ said event organizer John ‘Dak’ Williams. ‘We had to reward her.’

Unfortunately, Cash couldn’t hold on to her speed, and lost a ski on her huge first jump in the finals.

Frenchmen Adrien Coirier of Les Arcs took second place, followed by Guerlain Chicherit of Tignes in third. Chicherit, who hadn’t competed for two years, came out of 19th place in the semifinals with a huge final run on an untouched part of the course.

‘I chose a different line where no one had been’ said Chicherit. ‘The landings were so soft, the snow was so good.’

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