What is Downhill From Here?

The purpose of Downhill From Here is to shine a spotlight on the uniquely amazing sport of  freeskiing. Downhill From Here is for veterans and newbies alike! I hope to give newcomers insight into all of the inner workings, terminology, and history of the sport. Downhill From Here will act as a sort of Freeskiing 101 to those wanting to get informed. And for those already well acquainted with freeskiing Downhill From Here will strive to keep you informed on everything happening in the freeskiing world. Providing readers with a fresh, new perspective on competitions, edits, gear, athletes, and more. Most importantly, this blog will act to share my love for freeskiing and hopefully impart some of that love onto you, the readers.

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Gear Review: Armada ARW 2016

When it comes to women’s skis there has been a recurring trend, famously called “pink it and shrink it,” where companies are doing just that, taking their men’s ski adding a “girly” design and decreasing the size. This just doesn’t cut it. Thankfully the wonderful people at Armada agree. Enter their flagship women’s ski the Armada ARW.

The ARW is the ski used by Armada’s X Game level women. This ski is intended for use in the park but is a great all-mountain ski. The control and power of the ARW are a testament to its construction. Armada opted to use their hybrid carbon and wood core, as they do with their mens ski, this amped up the durability and control. The flex is on the moderate side. Below you can see the flex pattern of the ARW with 1 being the softest and 10 being stiffest. The only issue with the ARW is that they only come in two sizes, 161 cm and 166 cm.

arwflex
Image: evo.com

The graphics on the ARW’s top sheet are really incredible. They used real flowers placed on a chalkboard to create an image of a skeleton and then photographed and digitally enhanced it. Armada has managed to create a graphic with a distinctly feminine feel while staying away from all of the cliche ideas of what makes a “girly” design.

armada-arw-skis-women-s-2016-161
Image: evo.com

 

AFP World Ranking Update

One of the biggest events in the world of freeskiing, the Dew Tour took place this weekend. This, along with the first stop of the USASA Revolution Tour and it’s halfpipe qualifiers mean that there have been a few changes to the AFP World Ranking. If you have no idea what I’m talking about check out my previous post explaining the rankings. If you’re all up to speed you can see a breakdown of how the disciplines and overall rankings have changed.

Men’s Slopestyle:
After a second consecutive win at Dew Tour, Gus Kenworthy moved up one position from 5th to 4th. Jossi Wells took home the silver medal after a great weekend of competition and made a 9 spot jump from 16th to 7th. In third place, Fabian Bosch made a significantly large leap of 42 spots, taking him from 63rd to 21st. Robby Franco finds himself in the Top 2o after rising from 21st to 19th and Teal Harle has moved into the Top 10. The top 3 spots in the rankings still remain with Joss Christensen, Bobby Brown, and James “Woodsy” Woods after their Dew Tour finishes of fourth, sixth, and fifth respectively.

Women’s Slopestyle:
Kelly Sildaru’s big victory at the Dew Tour this weekend has moved from 8th to 5th. After placing second Tiril Christiansen has moved from 3rd to 2nd. Emma Dahlstrom retains her 1st place position after taking home the bronze medal. A fourth place finish takes Johanne Killi from 15th to 8th in the rankings. Other notable movements in the Top 20 include Silvia Bertagna who finished 12th at Dew Tour and moved from 9th to 7th and Coline Ballet-Baz  who moved from 16th to 12th after finishing eleventh. Lisa Zimmermann has made her way into the Top 20 jumping 24 spots from 42nd to 18th, after finishing ninth at the Dew Tour.

Men’s Halfpipe:
With the Dew Tour,the ASAPA Revolution Halfpipe Qualifiers, and the first official stop of the U.S. Revolution Tour all taking place this weekend there has been quite a bit of movement in the halfpipe rankings. David Wise’s victory at the Dew Tour keeps him in 2nd position, while Beau-James Wells’ huge second place finish bumped him from 21st to 14th. Alex Ferreira rounded out the podium and rose 3 spots from 6th to 3rd. Finishing just shy of the podium in fourth was Kevin Rolland. He remains in 1st. Byron Wells 5th place finish earned him a one spot bump from 8th to 7th. Both Kris Atkinson and Jacob Beebe have entered the Top 20 in the 18th and 19th spots, respectively. At the USASA Revolution Tour Halfpipe Qualifiers Sammy Schuiling’s win took him from 70th to 68th. In second and third were Jasper Donley (now 74th) and Sam Ward (now 78th). And finally at the first official stop of the U.S. Revolution Tour, Kwang-Jin Kim picked up the win and a six spot jump, taking him from 36th to 30th. Gisler Joel makes no move from 128th after placing second and Alexander Yeadon rounded off the podium in third bumping him up 15 spots from 51st to 36th.

Women’s Halfpipe:
There is a new leader in the Women’s Halfpipe Rankings! Ayana Onozuka’s Dew Tour win allowed her to move into the top spot. Cassie Sharpe is up 3 spots, from 7th to 4th, after taking home second place. Brita Sigourney earned a one spot bump into 5th with her third place performance. Janina Kuzma just missed the podium placing fourth but has moved up into 2nd place in the rankings. Other notable movements as a result of the Dew Tour were Sabrina Cakmakli moving into the 8th spot and both Marie Martinod and Isabelle Hanssen moving into the Top 20. Marie jumping an impressive 14 spots from 23rd to 9th and Isabelle rising from 22nd to 18th. Abigale Hansens victory at the U.S. Revolution Tour along with her eleventh place finish at the Dew Tour keep her in 40th. A win at the USASA Revolution Tour Halfpipe Qualifiers has Svea Irving in 65th.

Overall:
In the Men’s Overall Rankings, Gus Kenworthy and Jossi Wells hold on to first and second, Beau-James Wells moves into the Top 3 from 7th, and a one spot bump has moved Taylor Wilson up into 4th. In the Women’s Overall Rankings, Devin Logan remains in the top spot, Kelly Sildaru is just out of the Top 3 at 4th after her one spot rise, Ayana Onozuka is up from 11th to 8th, and Isabell Hanssen moved up five spots into 9th.

Men's Overall Rankings leaders Jossi Wells (2nd) and Gus Kenworthy (1st) during the Dew Tour Men's Slopestyle Final. / Photo: Dave Bergthold
Men’s Overall Rankings leaders Jossi Wells (2nd) and Gus Kenworthy (1st) during the Dew Tour Men’s Slopestyle Final. Photo: Dave Bergthold

“Send It to the Moon”: Sammy Carlson’s New World Record

Pushing boundaries, taking chances, daring to go “where no man has gone before..” This is the essence of freeskiing, the very foundation it was built on.

This week we see these core tenants put into action by none other than Sammy Carlson. Sammy, while filming a segment for his newly released film with action sports media company Teton Gravity Research (TGR), The Sammy C Project, set out to hit the largest ski jump in the Western Hemisphere. This jump, Michigan’s Copper Peak, was built in 1970 as a long jump for “ski-flying” and hasn’t seen use in 20 years. It was the perfect jump for Sammy to, as he puts it, “send it to the moon.”

Sammy is no newcomer to freesking. He is a 7-time X Games medalist and has been known to be a leader in the progression of the sport. Even after taking a step back from competition in 2014 he still finds a way to impress us all and garner accolade’s by taking home 3 consecutive X Games Real Ski Backcountry gold medals. Sammy’s session on Copper Peak will help him add to his lengthy list of accomplishments and secure him a spot in the record books as the first and only skier to hit this type of jump with freestyle intent. Copper Peak is intended for the straight airs of ski jumping so the spinning and flips of freeskiing is already something this jump has never seen, but Sammy takes it a step further by approaching many of his tricks switch, or backwards (if you are unfamiliar with ski terminology).

To set the scene and help express just how gnarly this jump is here are a few figures: Copper Peaks is a daunting 24 stories. It boasts a 364 ft. vertical drop and a 35° in-run. Distance records from this jump are over 500 feet. Simply put, this jump is massive and to hit it is a major feat alone, but to do it with steaze (a term used in action sports meaning style and ease) like Sammy’s is incredibly impressive. TGR’s co-founder Steve Jones highlighted this saying: “The jump is truly enormous. Hitting a gap this big in general takes significant confidence and skill, not to mention spinning from its lip or dropping in switch. Sammy is unbeatable when it comes to skiing like this.” I could not agree with him more, right now you would be hard-pressed to find someone consistently pushing the limit like Sammy.

“The Sammy C” project premiered in November and is available on iTunes, Google play, and Amazon now! For the official trailer and more information on “The Sammy C Project” check out www.thesammycproject.com.

 

AFP World Rankings: An Explanation

In the world of freeskiing there is only one definitive ranking system, the AFP World Rankings. Now you might be asking yourself: What is the AFP and why should I care about their ranking system? If that’s the case, don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

The AFP, or The Association of Freeskiing Professionals, is the association formed by athletes and ski industry professionals to represent freeskiing on a global level. They act as THE single, unified voice of competitive freeskiing athletes. Their goal is to improve and boost the sport of freeskiing into mainstream consumption. The commitment to consistent, credible judging and competition has been key to the success of the AFP. Due to this credibility, the AFP was key in helping halfpipe and slopestyle skiing gain acceptance into the Olympics. Each year an extensive, worldwide schedule of AFP sanctioned events is organized and presented as the AFP World Tour.

The extensive network of events that is the AFP World Tour makes the AFP World Rankings possible. Because the AFP World Tour consists of many different AFP sanctioned events and is not tied to a singular series, tour, or event a truly unbiased world ranking is achieved. There are different event levels making it possible for skiers at every level to participate in competition. These rankings range from small bronze-level regional competitions to the extremely large-scale platinum-level events like the X Games and the Dew Tour. The results from these AFP sanctioned competitions are used to calculate the AFP World Rankings. The ranking is calculated as a points system with each event result being assigned AFP points based on its sanctioning level. So doing well at a higher-level competition will earn you more AFP points than at a low level event.

The AFP Rankings are calculated over a 52-week season and result in the naming of a World Champion at the end of each season. A World Champion is named for both men and women, in the disciplines halfpipe, slopestyle, big air and overall. The rankings are a rolling system and calculated for each discipline as follows:

Overall Rankings:

MEN: Top 2 HP Results + Top 2 SS Results + Top 1 BA Result + next highest result
WOMEN: Top 3 Halfpipe Results + Top 3 Slopestyle Results

Halfpipe, Slopestyle, and Big Air Rankings:

Top 4 results in each discipline for both Men’s and Women’s

The First

Welcome all…to a blog dedicated entirely to freeskiing, and run by a girl stuck in the south trying to navigate her way back to the mountains. Since I can’t be in the backcountry or the park this season, blogging about everything I’m missing seems like the only way to channel my obsession.

I’ve come to a few realizations living far from any snowfall. The first being that if you express your love for all things cold, wintery, and ski related, the most polite response you might get is a blank stare. Second on the list is that the mention of skiing to the general public can be quite polarizing. Two images come to mind: the immediate thought of being towed behind a high powered speed boat on a hot summers day with nothing but two planks keeping you out of the water OR that one trip to Breckenridge for your family reunion/church youth retreat/spring break with friends/etc when you almost broke your neck after “nailing those turns” during a half day of ski school… We all know this trip. If we haven’t taken some version of it ourselves we’ve relived it through the countless stories from friends who “tore it up” on the slopes. While these two images are completely fine ideas of what skiing is to many people, for me, they just don’t cut it.

Freeskiing is rarely what comes to mind when the broad (and sometimes confusing) topic of “skiing”comes up. For many people, this blog might be the first you’re hearing about the term. If that is the case, let’s take a moment to establish some sort of definition for this new term, freeskiing.

Freeskiing, sometimes referred to as New School Skiing, is a facet of skiing that utilizes tricks, jumps, and terrain park features (rails, boxes, and other obstacles) in a number of different settings. Freeskiing can occur practically anywhere with popular locales including urban environments, terrain parks, and the endless expanse of the backcountry. A well known ski writer, Mike Rogge, described freeskiing as simply “skiing freely, anywhere, any place and on any terrain you want to ski on.” Some athletes choose to ski in competitions on slopestyle courses and halfpipes while others choose to ski handrails and makeshift jumps in abandoned buildings and parks. Both are integral parts of freeskiing and what makes the sport so uniquely riveting.

Now, if you’re already familiar with the sport, you might be thinking “What are you talking about? Freeskiing is an Olympic sport! The X Games are internationally televised every year! People know about freeskiing.” Well, you’re right. There’s no denying freeskiing has made a major push into mainstream consumption in recent years. In 2014, freeskiing made its’ Olympic debut with both men’s and women’s halfpipe and slopestyle competitions taking place during the Winter Olympics held in Sochi. With that being said, freeskiing is still a relatively new sport that many members of the general public have extremely limited (if any) knowledge of. They have no idea what they’re missing and they’re the exact reason I started this blog.

My main goal for this blog is to bring freeskiing to the attention of anyone willing to embrace it. If just one person picks up an interest in this wonderful sport this blog will have fulfilled its purpose. Now, that’s not to say that if you already love freeskiing this blog isn’t for you! I plan on inundating this platform with all things newschool. What I hope to offer is a fresh take on competitions, edits, gear, athletes, you name it! This blog can be your one stop shop for freeskiing from the perspective of a 22 year old University of Alabama sorority girl with a serious love for all aspects of the freeskiing lifestyle.

Well, it seems I’ve run out of steam and this is the end of my first blog post. You could say I’ve made it up the lift and really it’s all downhill from here.