Yates & Reid take home the katana at the first stop of The North Face Masters
Coming off of an exciting qualifying round on Northway the prior day, the women where back with vengeance as they took to Crystal's coveted Silver King. A towering 7012 feet, the Silver King is a behemoth of a face featuring extreme couloirs, jagged rock faces and boasts a section locals call little Alaska. This is a peak none should take lightly.
Despite its extreme features and steep face, the women weren't fazed as they navigate the rocky face like they grew up with it in their own backyard. Weather would be a huge issue all day and only added to the difficulty this peak possesses as multiple weather holds and low visibility made it that much more difficult for the field of women riders.
Over the course of roughly 3 hours, 12 women dropped in to strut their stuff. From high speed descents to huge cliff drops and perfect powder turns, this women's final was the best in 5 years.
2011 overall tour winner Shannon Yates would prove once again why she deserved the coveted katana and a first place prize of $4,000. With light winds and low visibility Shannon would navigate the course beautifully. From the top she would come down to the riders left where she picked her way through a sharky band of rocks. After stomping her second air over another band of rocks Yates put down some epic pow turns and navigated her way to the bottom where she dropped the last feature, a sizable cliff drop that only one other female attempted. Her powerful turns and high speeds would convince the judges for the number one spot and her fifth first place finish.
"I never expect to win." Says Yates. "When you do you're let down even harder. I set goals that I can control: from picking my line to sticking my landings and putting on a good show. A lot of the times that pays off. But every win is as good as the last one. The riding is always fun, the camaraderie is amazing and I'm stoked to ride with my friends at The Masters."
Following her up on the podium would be Maria DeBari as she took a risky approach to her run straight down the rocky face to a perfectly executed cliff drop at the bottom earning her second place. When your brother is Lucas Debari it's no wonder you place in pretty much every competition you enter. Finishing off the podium in third place would be Maribeth Swetkoff-Kramer with a fast paced, smooth pow run, just what the judges were looking for.
Women's podium (L-R): Maria DeBari, Shannan Yates and Maribeth Swetkoff-Kramer
Watch the women's highlights here
The men would be up next but due declining visibility and bad weather the judges made an executive decision to hold off until early Friday morning. Even though the men were eager to compete it was a safety call from head judge Tom Burt as not only would it be hard to watch the competition but the safety of the riders always comes first.
It was an early start as the men made their way to the Silver King to battle it out for the top spot at the first stop of The North Face Masters at Crystal. Weather would once again play a big factor in the day's competition as high winds and low visibility would delay the start about 45 minutes. But this didn't disrupt each riders determination to put down the best run they could.
Last year's stop winner, Tim Carlson, would put it all on the line as he navigated the rocky face with speed and precision. He got slightly lost in the lower section as he threw his hands up mid run in disgust. He appeared to be cliffed-out. But Tim isn't your typical rider. When most would unstrap and hike out Tim persevered and sliced his way down the rocky bottom section of the Silver King. The crowd went wild as not only were they pumped on his run but happy that he made it out safely.
Landing himself in first place and taking home the katana and $4,000 would be tour regular Brandon Reid. Flying out of the starting gate to the riders left he bombed through the top section to stomp a perfect rock drop. "The top section was badgering me all day. I really didn't put much thought into the second half of the run." Admits Reid. After traversing back toward the middle section he would navigate the rocky face of the Silver King slicing his way through a small chute to find himself with an open field of fresh powder. It was a treat to watch as his powerful yet graceful run put him on top of the podium. "I'm pumped to be here and stoked to ride with all my friends." Says Reid. "This is the culmination of competing for so many years, knowing your venue, knowing your line and knowing where you need to be."
Sammy Luebke's insane run that included multiple cliff drops, huge pow turns and a giant front-side 360 indie off the lower cliff would land him in second place. It was like watching his full part from Standard Films live. Following him in third was non other than Kyle Clancy who staged a perfect switch frontside 360 off the top cornice to a big rock drop. Mid-run he threw down his signature method and would finish off with a high-speed pow turn at the bottom. A true treat to watch.
Men's Podium (L-R): Ryland Bell, Mikey Marohn, Sammy Luebke, Brandon Reid and Kyle Clancy, Alex Yoder | Photo: Abe Blair
Watch the men's highlights here
Other highlights from the men's final would be Forrest Burki's straight line from the top of the left side chute dressed in a poncho, or as MC Mark Sullivan puts it, the drug rug, earning him Clif Bar's best moments award. Ryland Bell would send the crowd into a frenzy as he threw a huge frontside 540 melon off the lower cliff. Last year's young gun winner Mikey Marohn impressed the crowd with his smooth powerful riding and giant backside 360 over the double. Lastly, 18 year-old Jerry Mark blew away the judges as he would take over as the new young gun at stop one.
That's it from the first stop of The North Face Masters at Crystal Mountain. Stay tuned as we will be hitting Kirkwood California for the second stop of The Masters March 1-4.