Snowbird: Huestis, Boucher lead freeskiing nationals{mosimage}The Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals semifinals became a test of patience for judges, spectators and athletes looking for windows in Friday’s whiteout conditions. Event organizers chased moments of clearing to run 106 athletes down Snowbird, Utah’s Upper Silver Fox — a huge bowl with endless line variations and massive, technical cliff drops.

Women’s competition ran quickly, with Snowbird locals again taking the top spots — Kelly Holland in second and Alaina Huestis in first. Laura Ogden of Whistler, B.C., finished third.

Returning champion Kit DesLauriers was having a great run, but fell in the lower section and did not advance to the finals. Thirteen women will go on to compete Saturday.

Increasing afternoon fog left five men, including former freeskiing nationals champion Johnny Law, unable to run before the event shut down at 4:45 p.m. As of Friday, Christian Boucher of Whistler, B.C., is leading, followed by Snowbird local Nick Greener and Aurelien Ducroz of Chamonix, France. Official men’s results will be posted after the final competitors take semifinal runs. The top 34 men will advance.

The 75 men and 31 women who competed Friday charged through variable snow conditions and extremely flat light — often waiting in the start gate for up to 45 minutes. However, competitors rose to the challenge, skiing the hardest lines ever seen in semifinals.

Friday’s highlight was Snowbird local Julian Carr’s unbelievable 140-foot front flip.

‘I’ve been looking at it for three years and the conditions were finally right’ said Carr. ‘I spent the last couple of days checking the landing, making sure it was time. The snow was a little hard, but I knew with the speed I would have when I landed, it would be fine. I wouldn’t have done it otherwise.’

Carr landed perfectly, but one binding released on impact. He clicked back in and finished his line unscathed amidst roaring applause.

The evening concluded with an unforgettable Tram party that only Snowbird could host. One hundred and forty athletes and organizers loaded into the two trams, which met over the Cirque with a shared sound system playing a live set by DJ Knuckles, with freestyles by skiing legend Jeff Holden and Gabe ‘Super G’ Shroder of Smith Optics. Under a clear, starry sky, the best freeskiers in the world came together in celebration of the week’s events, the freeskiing community and the spectacular Wasatch Mountains.

The Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals conclude Saturday with men’s and women’s finals down Snowbird’s infamous North Baldy.

Event sponsors: Subaru of America, Snowbird Ski Resort, Amstel Light, The North Face, Powder Magazine, Nordica, Sportsinsurance.com and Smith Optics.

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