Blake Paul & Shannon Yates take top qualifying spots at the final stop of The North Face Masters
We’ve reached the culmination of the 2012 North Face Masters as we kicked off qualifying today on the Silver Fox below Snowbird’s legendary Arial tram. It’s been a long season as variable snow conditions have plagued this year’s tour delaying stops and creating interesting snow packs for competitors.
Nevertheless, we have reached the final stop, and it couldn’t have been a better situation as over a foot of snow fell on Snowbird yesterday. That’s the toughest part about a big mountain competition. You are so reliant on the weather and snow that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But, we lucked out this year as each stop got last minute accumulation to make it one of the best North Face Masters tours in its short 5-year history.
The snow would continue to come down in spurts as 20 ladies strutted their stuff for the judges. A huge crowed gathered at the bottom of the venue and every face shot, pow turn and cliff drop evoked loud cheers form the gallery that pumped up each competitor.
Both Tiffany Noel and Kirkwood winner Casey Lucas would drop into the North Chute, recognized as the most difficult on the Silver Fox face, and absolutely slay it. Their fast, powerful pow turns and a lower waterfall drop were entertaining to say the least. Cindi Lou Grant’s fluid run got the MCs talking as she charged down the mountain without hesitation. But it would be 2011 overall champ Shannon Yates who linked a unique line through Hanging Bowl with perfect powder turns and a lower air that would land her in the first qualifying spot after day one.
“April in Utah is always promising for good snow and we got it good,” said Yates. “I was pretty stoked to nail my air from North Chute into Hanging Bowl. From there I had some good turns in an open pow field and ended it with a hit through what is known as Field Goal Air.”
Next up would be the men as pockets of sun and snow continued to move in over The Bird. It would definitely be a huge factor for some as the flat light would make it difficult to nail their runs But that didn’t stop the crowd from getting crazy as the men showed off their big mountain skills.
2010 Young Gun winner Ryan Hudson threw down one of the biggest airs of the day as he sent the lookers left Smokestack Cliffs without hesitation. He would hold on to the landing in the deep snow with a quick revert then charged to the finish. “I’ve been hitting that cliff all season. So when it came time I was ready for it.” Said Hudson after chatting with him about pulling off the sketchy landing.
Despite it being a qualifying round, riders put down runs worthy of finals. Sammy Luebke would show why he’s sitting in second overall on tour with his signature front side 3 at the bottom of his run. TNF team rider Mark Carter made his presence heard as he linked together a huge 3 at the top to a giant method with both speed and precision. Alex Yoder would continue his stride on tour as he put down fast, surf like turns and a Smoke Stack Cliff drop that would land him in the second qualifying spot.
Coming out of no where would be Jackson Hole local and first timer Blake Paul, who would put down a run worthy of first place. “I was riding here three days ago before we got snow and thought to myself, this is going to be a gnarly contest. Then I woke up and there was over a foot of fresh,” Said Paul. “I had a few different things I wanted to do but I ended up not following any plans for my run. I knew I wanted to hit my top air and if that worked I just made sure to look like I was having fun and snowboarding rather then competing in a contest.”