France's Jim Sorbé and American Hazel Birnbaum took victory at The North Face Chilean Freeskiing Championships on Saturday, after two days of competition at El Colorado, Chile. The event was a qualifier contest for the Freeride World Tour.
Three weeks ago, El Colorado and the surrounding ski resorts were in dire need of snow, then suddenly, an unexpected two-plus feet of fluffy snow arrived like a blessing and put conditions back on track. Just three days before the start of the contest, an enormous storm rolled across the Andes, blanketing the range in snow.
"You've got to love it when a plan comes together like this," said competition director Bryan Barlow. "We had everything we hoped for -- snow conditions, epic light, solid athlete and really supportive partners with The North Face Chile, Cristal Light and El Colorado. The event was a huge step in the right direction for freeride in Chile."
Running before the men on both days, the women were given untracked powder on El Colorado's 2,000-vertical-foot Santa Teresa venue and they truly stole the show.
American Kaytlin Hughes held the lead after the first day, but she was closely followed by Spain's Laia Castellarnau Plaza, Russia's Anna Khankevich and Birnbaum.
Birnbaum stepped up, stomping several big airs with next to no deductions, and she moved into the lead. Running last was Hughes, the day one leader, and she was unable to post as solid a run as on day one, giving Birnbaum the win. For her standout skiing on both days, Brinbaum was also awarded the Sickbird award.
Chile's own Soledad Diaz was in eighth place going into the final day, and for she picked a line which, if she'd landed it, may have given her the victory. As she approached her final air, a tricky, 20-foot crosshill transfer off the last feature, she clipped a rock in the landing and was unable to pull off the one-legged exit.
For the men, the top finishers were a super diverse group, with six different countries represented in the first six spots. In the end, Sorbé took the victory with two hard-charging runs, with American Andrew Rumph and Italy's Zeno Cecon in second and third, respectively.
Chile's Vicente Sutil finished in the sixth position, but he stood out from the rest for his stylish, creative interpretation of the venue, with a stomped 360 and a triple stage air on his final day run.
This is the fifth year in a row that Chile has hosted a a world-class freeride event contest and El Colorado has already confirmed that it will be hosting another event next year.
Drew Tabke is the 2013 overall Freeride World Tour champion. He judged this contest, alongside freeskiers Chopo Diaz, Hugo Harrisson and Ian McIntosh.