Snowsports

Kings and queens of the hill

By Sheila Miller
sports@taosnews.com
Posted 1/18/19

The King and Queen of the Hill Terrain Park Competition, the 8th annual slopestyle competition at the Don Diego Terrain Park of Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort in conjunction with NMX Sports...

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Snowsports

Kings and queens of the hill

Posted

The King and Queen of the Hill Terrain Park Competition, the 8th annual slopestyle competition at the Don Diego Terrain Park of Sipapu Ski & Summer Resort in conjunction with NMX Sports, was held Saturday (Jan. 12). Sunday there was also a USA Snowboard and Freeski Association-sponsored event open to USASA members only, but anyone with the skills to navigate the terrain park and the $30 entrance fee ($10 for season pass holders) could enter Saturday’s competition.

The Don Diego Terrain Park was closed to general visitors not registered for the competition, so for several hours it stood mostly empty. Only an occasional competitor made it up the lift for a practice run.

It’s unclear how many participants intended to compete; some may have left during the hours that the power was down in Sipapu, leaving only one lift running off the resort’s generator. The slow-lift speeds prevented the event from running on schedule and there was some question as to whether it would be held at all.

The line at the base of the hill continued to grow longer.

Just in the nick of the time, power was restored to the resort and neighboring properties, and the organizers decided to go ahead with the event, allowing one practice run before a Best Trick competition. The skiers and snowboarders used only the top three feature sets – a jump and two double features that offer the choice of two features in one location. One consisted of a rail and a jump and the other gave the option of a box or a jump.

Most people have at least seen a photo of someone ski jumping, the backs of their skis crossing and the ski jumper leaning forward so far it seems her helmet might touch the skis. While the Sipapu terrain park jumps are not as extreme as Olympic ski jumps, athletes can nevertheless get some serious air.

A rail and a box are both variations of exactly the sort of thing most of our mothers told us not to do when we were kids. A rail, as it sounds, is a deliberately slippery, iced metal rail. A box is two such rails, running parallel, with polyurithane between them.

When performing on the rail and the box features, the goal is to make it from the start to the finish without killing yourself. Bonus points if you can do it upright, make it look relatively easy and maybe add a quarter- or half-turn and some style.

Naturally, athletes must slow themselves considerably after a jump to enter a rail or a box. Equally clearly, the more speed they gather before a jump, the more air they can get, so competitors must alter their speed as they make their way down the slope and choose which features they want.

Competitors ranged from 8 years old to adults and included skiers and snowboarders. Though the results were not posted as of press time, the culture of the competition was inclusive. The real purpose of competing wasn’t the $100 Best Trick prize, but the opportunity to strut their stuff before an admiring and encouraging crowd who shouted, “Go for it!” and “You got it!” generally pumping up competitors when the tricks went their way and when they didn’t.

NMX Sports is an Albuquerque-based youth extreme sports nonprofit that organizes events ranging from snow sports in the winter to camping, rock climbing and races in the summer.

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