Home Field Advantage: The North Face Masters at Crystal Mountain, WA

Crystal Mountain, WA (February 12, 2010)

A freeride contest on a pow day—yeah, The North Face Masters series is 2 for 2 in that department this year as stop two of the series went down at Crystal Mountain, WA, in knee deep conditions and driving wind and snow. And the home team showed up strong, with Forrest Burki taking home $3,500 and a samurai sword for his line and Maria Debari in second behind SLC’s Shannan Yates for the women.

Maria DebariSilver King, Crystal’s most prominent sidecountry run, is a behemoth of a spine, which, due to slightly lower than average snow levels this year, was spotted with pepper and scraggly trees that cling to the lower portion of the slope. While Wednesday’s prelims had run in the equally-rock-strewn Northway area, Silver King is certainly the marquis line of Crystal’s expansive terrain. After using the weather day on Thursday, the event had to run on Friday. Rolling cloud and gusting winds made for challenging conditions as competitors sometimes struggled to find their lines after dropping the windlip off the top. As women’s second place finisher Maria Debari said after her run, “I was looking for my markers but couldn’t really see them anywhere. So I just went for some powder turns and missed my chute.” I guess they were two grand worth of pow turns, Maria…

Aaron RobinsonHer brother Lucas took a similar approach, opting for clean, fast run top to bottom, which garnered fourth place for the men and ensured Glacier put in a strong showing for the Pacific Northwest, with Southern Colorado’s Charlie Hoch stomping airs to a deserved third place and foiling a home-state sweep on the podium. But for the men, those that chose to go rider’s left upped the ante considerably. Blair Habenicht rode the exposure dead center on the King before pausing for a minute and finding a clean line through thin coverage and spotty trees.

But it was, without a doubt, Burki’s day. He started on the same line as Blair, picking through a couple rock ledges and a hanging chute before posting up in the sketch zone. “I meant to exit right into the main chute,” Burki would later say, “but got a bit off line. I saw that opening and it looked okay, so I tried not to think about it too much and just went.” His double drop through fifty feet or so of questionable coverage and exposed rocks lead to a high speed “northwest wheelie stomp,” and fired up the crowd. With fifteen riders left to go, it was hard to find a line more questionable than Forrest’s, despite efforts by first place qualifier Sky Risvold and others—including a couple that had to hike out of 80 feet of exposure after zigging when they should have zagged.

Sky RisvoldAnd then Forrest and Blair lead a crew around their home mountain, enjoying fresh turns until the awards at the end of the day. A fitting end to a freeride contest, indeed.

Thanks go out to Tiana and crew at Crystal, Jimmy at The North Face, Estelle and company at MSI, Dee Patterson, Perata on the mic, Tom Burt, Temple Cummins, Julie Zell and Andy Hetzel for judging the event despite patchy visibility, and Ullr for blessing the mountains with classic northwest conditions and a freeride contest that rode like a powder day. Let’s hope the streak continues at Kirkwood.

The Podium:

Forrest Burki, Blair Habenicht, Charlie Hoch


1st Forrest Burki

2nd Blair Habenicht

3rd Charlie Hoch

4th Lucas Debari

5th Aaron Robinson

Maria Debari, Shannan Yates, Mary Boddington


1st Shannan Yates

2nd Maria Debari

3rd Mary Boddington

For full results click here.


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