Kincaid is from Tucson, Arizona, and has probably never heard, let alone watched, a big-mountain skiing competition. I give him the once over as we load Snowbird, Utah’s Peruvian Express—he’s skiing in jeans, not wearing gloves, and his flowing red hair spills over goggles that might be older than me. I have the utmost respect for him. Here’s a guy who “prefers the 120-degree heat of Tucson,” but still thought, “what the hell, I’ll give skiing a shot.” I figure it’d be like me deciding, “What the hell, I’ll give free diving a shot.”
As we gain elevation on Peruvian we come in sight of the qualifiers for the Freeskiing World Championships on West Baldy. “Oh, what’s this?” remarks Kincaid, with a mixture of curiosity and excitement. Knowing all too well the frustration of explaining big-mountain skiing in a chair lift ride, I give him the one sentence answer: “There’s a start gate, finish gate, and a group of judges who score you based on where you go and how you go about it.” Satisfied with my answer, Kincaid returns to stories of frying eggs on hoods of cars, making pancakes on sidewalks, and other things one might do with the Tucson heat.
For skiing enthusiasts who want a little more beta than Kincaid, here’s the lowdown on what’s happening at Snowbird this weekend.
From qualifiers on Wednesday and Thursday, judges will take approximately one-third of the field and add them to a group of pre-qualified athletes. On Friday, the Freeskiing World Tour Finals officially begin on Silver Fox. For those unfamiliar with the ’Bird, Silver Fox is the quintessential north-facing run off the Tram. While Silver Fox sees a lot of skier traffic, the snow generally stays chalky for weeks after a storm. There are countless line options, and after all of the competitors make a run, a cut will be made and the remaining competitors will be taken to North Baldy for Super Saturday.
Snowbird’s North Baldy may be the ideal venue for competitive big-mountain freeskiing. Baldy is steep, north facing, loaded with features, and spectator friendly. From the fields of glory up top to the amphitheatre, skiers will be charging hard and pleasing a crowd of thousands. Come Saturday, some of the best skiers in the world will be battling it out for the title of Freeskiing World Champion, and the overall title, the McConkey Cup. If you can’t be there in person, check out all the coverage at Freeskiingworldtour.com.