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Freeride World Tour: Coming to Squaw Valley's Tram Face This Weekend?

The Freeride World Tour, a European-based big-mountain competition, will make its only visit to the U.S this weekend when it comes to Squaw Valley, California. The competition is slated to take place on Sunday on the legendary Tram Face, a permanently closed venue filled with rocky cliffs and steep chutes. We spoke to Squaw locals and FWT competitors Cody Townsend and Elyse Saugstad about what to expect this weekend.
posted: 02/27/2010
Tram Face
by Megan Michelson

Last year, when the Freeride World Tour visited Squaw Valley plans to hold the big-mountain competition on the Tram Face, a foreboding peak that's permanently closed to skiers, were changed due to poor snow conditions. Instead, the competition was held on Silverado, a steep, rocky face on the backside of the mountain. This year, the competition's organizers hope to bring the event back to the Tram Face. Originally scheduled for Saturday, it was announced at the athlete meeting held Friday night at Squaw that the competition will take place on Sunday, when the weather is supposed to clear.

The venue for Sunday's competition will be announced at 5 p.m. on Saturday. If conditions are right, it will take place on Tram Face. If they're not, it'll likely be back on Silverado. If it is on Silverado, organizers say they will try to do a second day of competition later in the week on Tram Face or another venue. We called Squaw locals and Freeride World Tour comeptitors Elyse Saugstad, who won the women's ski division of this event last year, and Cody Townsend to find out what their goals are for this weekend.

"For me, it's Tram Face or bust," says Cody, who drew the 15th starting position in tonight's bib draw. "I have a couple lines picked out. It’ll come down to the conditions and where I feel like skiing that day."

Cody skied the Tram Face once before while filming a segment with Matchstick Productions. Here's how he described the venue: "The number one thing: When you get to the top, you can’t see anything. Your first air—whether it’s 10 feet or 50 feet—will feel like a 300-footer. It’s fully blind. And it's intimidating and steep."

As for last year's champ, Elyse? "I feel like Tram Face is pretty much optimal right now," she says. "With the latest snowfall, it should be good. My goal is to throw down a line and represent..and win—it'd be nice to repeat last year."

Earlier this week, Squaw local and pro freeskier C.R. Johnson—a former X Games competitor—passed away after hitting a rock at Squaw Valley. The Squaw locals competiting this weekend—Elyse, Cody, as well as Tim Dutton, JT Holmes, and Jackie Passo—will all be skiing with C.R. in mind. "I truthfully think that we'll go out there and ski and represent our friend," says Elyse.



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