(This is the second and final part of a series about professional skier Drew Rouse's experience at the Canadian Freeskiing Championships last month in Revelstoke, British Columbia.)
REVELSTOKE, British Columbia - It was the morning of the qualifier day for the Canadian Freeskiing Championships in Revelstoke, British Columbia, and Katrina Devore was going 5th for the ladies and Darrell Haggard and I were 28th and 48th, respectively, in the men's field.
I was definitely having a few second thoughts about competing because of two separate crashes before I left, one about 3 weeks prior had cracked 2 ribs. That wasn't bothering me much, but the crash just a week earlier that had separated my left shoulder and broken my right thumb, was. Or maybe it was the two violent falls that had just shaken my confidence a little or a combination of all three. Needless to say I was nervous and the judges would be taking a steep cut and perhaps only 10 skiers would advance out of my round of 65, so I would have to ski very well to advance, which was adding to the pressure circling in my head.
After inspection I watched the girls ski, Katrina skied a fast fluid line but ultimately didn't advance due to a low line score. My friend Lexi Dupont had a great run that stood out to me and was the top scorer for the girls with big air and some fast skiing.
In these competitions the level of skiing is so high that you must ski mistake-free to advance or to have a shot at the podium. One little bobble will pretty much put you out of contention and that's what happened to my good buddy from Summit County. I skied two laps to get the blood flowing and rolled up to the start gate with a few minutes to spare. I chatted with Patrick Westfeld of Aspen and wished him luck and then it was my turn to go.
I let out a hoot because I do really enjoy how alive dropping into one of these contests makes me feel. Shifting off a mogul, I sped off toward my first air. The sun had disappeared right before I dropped in and I kind of got a little lost in the flat light. Finding my second option for my first air, I dropped a 15-footer and quickly shut my speed down, traversed left to ollie over a few small rock bands and line up the first of two tree bonk airs I had set up by pushing snow into some lips.
I let my concentration lapse, I dropped my hands on the first jump perhaps focusing too much on making sure I tapped the tree with my tails. It put me in the backseat on the landing and the first bump I hit bucked me and I skidded about 50 feet to a stop.
My hand hurt, and I knew the contest was over for me, so I just collected my poles and skied solemnly to the finish. I had tried even though I wasn't feeling 100 percent, that was enough for me.
I watched the rest of the boys ski great runs, with my friend Luke Nelson's smooth run standing out in my head and my buddy Katrina and I skied a few runs of Canadian powder and headed to the athlete meeting at the base. My companions found out they didn't make it, either, so we left to get some food and slept in the next day.
I spent another five days in Revelstoke, watched the final two rounds of the contest which ran on Saturday the day after I skied and then was weather delayed until Wednesday. We happily filled our extra days with some ski touring on Rogers Pass and some fun turns at the resort. On the day of the finals, the sun finally came out as it had been socked in and gloomy pretty much since we arrived.
The Canadians Rockies shimmered in their new coat of snow and for as far as the eye could see, 5,000 vertical-foot peaks stretched into the horizon in every direction - this place is true paradise for a big mountain skier.