The Swatch World Freeride Tour (WFT) rolled into Kirkwood California recently and competitors found hard, fast and firm snow covering the rocks, cliffs and gullies that made up the event venue.
The conditions were so questionable the WFT organizers allowed the competitors up on the ridge for a pre-event terrain inspection. Usually the visual inspection happens from down below only.
With the challenging terrain covered in old snow that ranged from blue ice to spring snow, it no wonder the East coast born-and-bread competitors found their way to the podium on this only stop for the tour in the United States.
Winning the men’s ski division was Lars Chickering-Ayers of Mad River Glen, Vermont, who is skiing on the tour with his brother Silas. Jaclyn Paaso, who attended Gould Academy in Maine and now lives in Squaw Valley Calif., won the women’s ski division. In third place was Ashley Maxfield of Jay Peak, Vermont.
Maxfield knows first hand about the dangers of skiing on the World Freeride Tour. She was friends with Vermont native Ryan Hawks, who died during a competition back in 2011 at Kirkwood – in the same zone as this year's competition is being held. Maxfield said, “I thought of him the entire time I was there, he was such a strong spirit and good friend.”
Hawks’ memory lives on via the Flying Ryan Foundation, which supports and educates young athletes through the mantra, “Expose, Inspire, Teach.” The foundation was represented at the Swatch World Freeride Tour by Hawks’ father Peter, who spoke to competitors and encouraged them to live life to its fullest and “rather than conquering the mountain, try and cooperate with it.” Find out more at flyingryanhawks.org
Maxfield, who is currently ranked fourth on the tour, is heading to Europe for the final two competitions of the season. She seems to be have solid confidence in herself and a sense of her Vermont roots. As a girls' high school soccer coach, she is committed to sharing her knowledge with others.
The WFT selects the top women in the world to compete and only 12 women are selected, three of which are from North America.
Maxfield talked about her life on the road as a pro skier, her memories of Ryan Hawks and traveling on the Swatch World Freeride Tour in an interview on Radio BDC and Edging the Xtreme with Dan Egan.
Listen to the entire interview here.
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