Aguilar and Morath win New England Powder 8
They have graded the symmetry of each other’s turns and obsessed over carving crisp, consistent figure 8s down the face of an untouched pitch. On their days off from the ski school, they continued to practice and practice and practice, instead of chasing bumps or skiing trees – yearning for fluidity, striving for perfection.
On Thursday, Feb. 26, all those early mornings and days off paid off.
The duo of Aguilar and Morath won the 2004 New England Powder 8 Championship at Jay Peak, Vt. – a win that automatically qualified them for the Powder 8 Nationals in Big Sky, Mont. March 26-28.
“We also won a pair of skis and $200,” said Aguilar. “Last year at the same event, we finished fourth and then finished ninth at nationals. We’re hoping to do a lot better than that this year. We want to take the momentum from this win and put it towards a strong showing in Montana.”
Unlike other valley powder 8 gurus, such as former world champs Franz Fuchsberger and Eric Archer, Aguilar did not grow up skiing competitively.
“I pretty much starting skiing when I moved out here in ’92,” Aguilar said.
The powder 8 is a unique skiing event, though, a hybrid of both the freestyle and alpine disciplines which doesn’t require the raw speed or mogul mobility that comes from a lifetime of ski training.
Instead it requires disciplined, smooth turning and a fluid skiing form, one that can’t be too tense or too aggressive and looks good to the judges down below.
It also requires a good teammate – someone who is not only a good individual skier, but who, more importantly, can stay in synch with his or her partner, as both carve down the hill together.
“It’s synchronism and dynamic skiing,” Aguilar said. “(To win) you have to be able to ski in-sync well, and you have to have an ‘on day’ the same day as your partner. You have to be an exciting skier to watch, too.”
The powder 8 is a head-to-head event, so competitors can’t just lay down one good run. To make near-identical figure 8s while skiing smoothly down the pitch is tough; to do it consistently on each run is even tougher.
“When we’re getting close to an event we’ll practice five or six days a week,” Aguilar said. “We’ll go out and take a run in the Back Bowls before we go to work, on something like Ghengis Khan. On our days off, we’ll practice for a couple hours at a time.”
While Aguilar is stoked about his and Morath’s first powder 8 win after competing in only three events, he isn’t letting the success go to his head. Even though they finished ninth at nationals in 2003, he knows they will have to ski a lot better than they did in Vermont to place higher this year in what is a stacked field of North America’s best.
“The field will be really strong,” Aguilar said. “Canada’s national champs, and last year’s U.S. national champs will be there. A team from Aspen, who came in second at (last year’s) worlds will be there. It’s a lot tougher group than we saw in Vermont. We’re really excited, though, and looking forward to going to Montana.”
Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at email@example.com