Fuchsberger outfoxes field at Powder 8 Championships | VailDaily.com

Fuchsberger outfoxes field at Powder 8 Championships

Ryan Slabaugh

Perfect eights, that is.

From April 11-16, the duo teamed up for the first time and won the World Powder 8 Championships in the Masters Division, and would have won the open division as well, had they entered.

Let Fuchsberger, who after winning last year’s open division with Vail’s Eric Archer retired, explain:

“I think this is one of those sports – like golf – that you improve with age,” the 43-year-old Fuchsberger said. “You can outfox the young guns with age and experience. We competed on the same hill as the men’s and women’s open finals. We saw our tracks. I know we would have won.”

Fuchsberger and the 57-year-old Neubauer were just four points off from a perfect score of a 120 – meaning they made only small blemishes in an otherwise spotless run of 40 turns – and scored better than any team regardless of class. In Powder 8 skiing, five judges observe head-to-head competition and give marks based on turn shapes and symmetry, as well as speed. The winner advances. The loser goes home.

“For me to have Franz –I really have to say this –as an instructor was the difference. He was so positive,” said Neubauer, who never competed in any Powder 8 championship until this year. “He kept saying, “We’re going to win, we’re going to win.’ I started believing it. I had the confidence going into the start gate.”

In January, Fuchsberger and Neubauer were talking about heli-skiing and Neubauer said he had always wanted to. A couple weeks later, Fuchsberger, who has now won four Powder 8 World Championships, called Neubauer and asked if he wanted the chance. The Masters division requires a team’s combined age be at least 100 and the duo had the age exactly.

The Powder 8’s were using Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter Skiing Resort as the venue. Neubauer, obviously, said yes.

“It was better than I imagined,” Neubauer said. “I’m from Austria, and I’ve never seen so many mountains just full of powder. When he asked me, it didn’t take me long to decide. I’m always up for new challenges.”

After deciding to compete, the duo practiced their technique in Vail’s back bowls.

“You could call that our training ground,” Fuchsberger said. “We only skied together two days.”

When the time came, they arrived a couple days early and got the practice runs they needed. They qualified in first. At the end of the week, they won the competition. All of that talk, skill and experience added up to the duo winning an all-expenses paid trip back to British Colombia for next year’s World Championship.

“We knew we had a great run,” Fuchsberger said. “I told Pepi that everyone should be happy we didn’t compete in the open competition.”

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