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Lopez & Wright Win US Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird

MSI Ninja Dex Mills wins Backcountry.com Sickbird Award
posted: 03/16/2009

Snowbird, Utah, March 14, 2009- Fans came out in droves for the final day of the 2009 Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals (USFN) at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Utah. The second stop on the 2009 Freeskiing World Tour (FWT), 59 athletes qualified for the final day on North Baldy and two long time FWT competitors finally stood atop the podium. Crystal Wright of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Julien Lopez of La Plagne, France, are the 2009 USFN Champions. Mountain Sports International “Ninja” (operations team member) Dex Mills of Crested Butte, Colorado, is the coveted 2009 Backcountry.com Sickbird Champion.



The North Baldy venue is approximately a 1,700-vertical-foot drop with a sustained pitch of 40-degrees, reaching 60-degrees in several spots leaving no room for mistakes. A total of 19 women got a shot at the expansive terrain for their first run of the day, but several fell victim to the variable conditions and only seven advanced to the Super Final.



Crystal Wright flashed both runs, executing an extremely impressive air and straight-line through rocks, holding onto her speed and earning two Backcountry.com Sickbird nominations. Wright’s consistency and fluidity throughout the weekend earned her the top spot and her first FWT victory. Wright also leads the total points’ standings going into the third stop. Emily Teague of Telluride, Colorado, moved into second position after the first run and held her position through the Super Final. Leah Evans of Red Mountain, British Columbia, rounded out the podium.



“This is amazing,” said 2009 USFN women’s Champion Crystal Wright. “I’ve been so close, so many times and it’s just so emotional and exciting to finally win. Words can’t describe. And with two Sickbird nominations, this is just the best day ever.”



A total of 40 men reached the final day starting in reverse order of the finish from day one. While the back of the pack hung it out there in an effort to make it to the Super Final cut, numerous were caught by the punchy conditions and several big names were knocked out of contention. A total of 16 skiers emerged from the first run to advance to the Super Final with Julien Lopez sitting on top. Consistency and fluidity paved the way and Lopez who boosted two huge backflips in his runs, skied fast and fluid, nailing each landing, earning two Sickbird nominations and the overall win.



“I did backflips because the people love it,” said 2009 USFN men’s Champion Julien Lopez. “It’s my first time winning a World Tour event. It means so much to me because this is a big comp. I won this for my friend Adrien Coirier.”



Kenjiro Matsuo of Japan was the only competitor to launch himself off of “Femur Rock”, which is easily a 60 foot-drop. Matsuo successfully landed the enormous impact the first time, but fell on his second attempt, knocking him out of contention. Drew Stoecklein of Alta, Utah, was sitting in first after day one, but was bumped to second after Lopez’s incredible performance this morning. Stoecklein would remain in second, skiing two fluid runs. MSI Ninja Dex Mills of Crested Butte, Colorado, who was up at 5 am setting up the venue, was sitting in 11th going into the Super Finals and had one of the most memorable runs of the day, straight-lining into a massive double-drop and holding onto his speed through the finish. Mills finished third and emerged the Backcountry.com Sickbird Champion of the 2009 USFN. Snowbird local Clif Bennett finished fourth and now leads the FWT, while relative newcomer Sean Chochrane of Revelstoke, British Columbia, rounded out the top five.



The FWT tour continues on to the third stop of the tour, the Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships, March 18-22 at Kirkwood Mountain Resort, California.



2009 Freeskiing World Tour Schedule of Events

Subaru Telluride Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier, Telluride, CO. February 5-8

Subaru US Extreme Freeskiing Championships, Crested Butte, CO. February 17-22

Subaru US Freeskiing Nationals, Snowbird, UT. March 10-15

Subaru North American Freeskiing Championships, Kirkwood, CA. March 18-22

Subaru Freeskiing World Championships, Alyeska, AK. April 8-12



Thousands tuned in to watch the LIVE satellite broadcast of the USFN on dozens of websites around the world. Mountain Sports International will be satellite broadcasting LIVE from every FWT stop. Live coverage of the best freeskiing in the world can be viewed from the comfort of your desk chair. MSI’s content creation team will be producing and posting same-day, world-class photography on its newly redesigned website, freeskiingworldtour.com.

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