Free your mind at the U.S. Open |

Free your mind at the U.S. Open

Dan Davis

Red Bulls, Coors Lights, and a whole lot of Nature Valley Granola Bars fuel the seventh annual U.S. Freeskiing Open in Vail Jan. 29-Feb 1.A world-class field of freeskiers crash the town to compete in Big Air, slopestyle, crossmax and superpipe competitions. Last year a crowd of 7,000 showed up to get jacked up on super-caffeinated drinks, granola and hops while cheering on their favorite jibber. And this year promises even more excitement with added bleachers, a boomin’ sound system and even more nightly parties.The Open kicked off Jan. 29 with the men’s and women’s slopestyle event. Probably the man to watch is one of America’s favorite huckers, Tanner Hall, who is coming off his third gold medal finish at the ESPN Winter X-Games in Aspen Jan. 22-27.Hall said he couldn’t ask for more from Vail’s course designers.”The course is good because it’s super simple,” Hall said. “I like that I already know everything I’m going to do.”Hall is right-on with his strategy, he said. The buzz around the course is that the winner will have to pull of a smooth run with slow spins and clean grabs. Be prepared to see everything from cork fives, sevens and nines to retro/mix moves like a switch triple daffy.”The course is fun with inventive rails,” added Rob Walter, another competitor who is part of the big-air extravaganza. “I’m just looking for that one clean run.”After the slopestyle competition on Jan. 30, the Open continues with the crossmax race on Saturday afternoon followed by the high-flying aerial action of the Big Air contest to be held under the lights of Golden Peak starting at 6 p.m. The Big Air contest is a judged event that has competitors attempting their biggest maneuvers under the lights.The action continues on Feb. 1 when the 18-foot walls of Vail’s premiere stunt-ditch will decide which talented athlete claims the superpipe victory.With more than 250 athletes competing in four different events for a freeskiing-record purse of $75,000, the Open is the perfect time to sport the trucker hat, low ride your pants, chase the swag and watch sick skiers huck for a buck.

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