Colorado Freeride Festival (Part 4 of 5)

The schedule for the 2013 Colorado Freeride Festival had an action packed variety of contests. While there was something for everyone's taste many of the races were overlapping so you did have to choose what you were going to watch and perhaps overlook something else. 

The easiest to watch was the Freeride Mountain Bike World Tour Slopestyle contest. This Gold level event took place within eye shot of the Festivillage so it was easy to know when the action was buzzing. In addition the hill alongside the jump course allows for seating that makes almost every inch visible without having to move but this was one performance you did not want to miss.

This year's course was designed by Tom Hay and New Zealand freerider Kelly McGarry. Easily noticeable for his long scraggly blonde hair and height (Over 6 feet tall), Kelly helped develop a slopestyle course that allowed the riders to go all out on nearly every jump. In cases like this where a rider tweaks the course it usually benefits them on race day but Kelly lucked out.

Terri and I bumped into him on Saturday morning at the Coffee & Tea Market were we were all having breakfast. He seemed a little bummed about his placing during qualifications where he landed as third alternate. "The only way I could make the finals is if three riders crashed into each other at the same time." He was joking of course but clearly he had hoped for a better score. "I'm happy that everyone is enjoying the course, it makes for a good show."

On that note he was surely right. The crowd that amassed to watch the finals was nearly twice the size as last year. They came to see some amazing tricks and that is what they got.

2013 was the year of the European invasion. Since the beginning Freeride has been dominated by Canadians like Brandon Semenuk, Ryan Berrecloth and Brett Rheeder but at Winter Park - 7 of the top 10 came from across the pond. The only North Americans to make the list were Tyler McCaul, Boston's Nicholi Rogatkin and Ontario prodigy Brayden Barret-Hay.

If you tried to judge the competition by what happened during the qualification round you would have been way off the mark. Qualifying in first place with a nearly flawless run was Canada's Anthony Messere. This 17 year old has been pushing the limits all year and it looked like he was lined up to land on the podium. However, a difficult crash during the finals put an end to this year's hopes.

Terri and I took hundreds of pictures from both the qualifying round and Finals. These pics are posted on Facebook so feel free to tag yourself or others. Enjoy!

So who stole the show? I could write it all down in detail but that would ruin the fun. Jeff Harper put the entire finals on Youtube for everyone to watch. It's almost as good as seeing it live - check it out.

Moving on to the Enduro. This was the one I was looking forward to and I have to say it was pretty hard for an audience to watch and follow. The first ever World Enduro Series race to take place in America set all kinds of records. It was the largest Enduro in the states, it had over 210 competitors from 12 countries including more than 100 professionals. It took place over the course of three days with five different stages that carried the racers all over the mountain.

The challenge for the racers was to avoid the rain and keep from running out of breath on the long courses. The weather did have a hand in altering the schedule when lighting hit the Zephyr Express lift causing it to be shut down for the remainder of the weekend.

The racers were clearly enjoying themselves and the change in atmosphere though some struggled with the altitude. Favorites like World Series leaders Jerome Clementz and Nicolas Vouilloz showed why they remain at the top of the list while Colorado locals used the home advantage to give them a run for their money.

On the ladies side it was all about reigning champion Tracy Moseley of Great Britain. With four wins in a row her dominance in this series is indisputable. She was followed closely by Caroline Ann Chausson and Anneke Beerten. Much like the Slopestyle, the Enduro race also finished with an all European podium.

During the earlier stages Terri took pictures on as many parts of the mountain as she could reach. On Sunday we both took to the trails and got hundreds of photos of the riders in full flight. Then the cold Colorado rain started to fall. We had to escape the mountain but all of our pics are posted on Facebook so feel free to tag yourself and others.

As with the Slopestyle it is also better to watch the Enduro highlights than read about them. Orpheus Productions put together a fantastic video of the action including interviews with the big players - Check it out.

Also you can continue reading this story by checking out Part 5.


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