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Pirates and moguls and money, oh my

Ryan Slabaugh

It seems, the competition was just that fierce.

While the Captain might have been there just to liven up a curious crowd – who cheered at his and announcer James Deaghan’s command – it seemed nobody was in immediate danger of walking the plank. The real source of conflict, after all, was that $1,000 booty the winner would claim.

In the duals competition, Steamboat Springs’ Eddie Keiser thought a double-twister spread off the top jump and a 720 off the bottom launchpad might give him the edge he needed. It was his first pro competition, so the 20-year-old played it like he played his back-to-back wins at Aspen Highlands in a regional U.S. Skiing Association regional association.

Keiser just edged Breckenridge’s Jimmy Schad and Logan Belz, and skied away with a thousand-dollar smile.

“As soon as you throw a (720), you’re putting the pressure on,” Keiser said. “The reason people don’t throw sevens is they can’t land them consistently. I knew if I did it, I’d probably win.”

Schad, eventually, would also be donning a four-figured smile. He just had to wait for the Air Show competition, where he earned his second-straight win, $1,000 and a roundtrip airline ticket on Spirit Air. His 360 ironcross grab not only had the crowd cooing, but left Captain Morgan shaking his head and those long, black locks.

“I’ve been trying to get that move ready for a moguls competition” said Schad, who competes for Team Summit. “I want to add a D-spin to it, which will help me in nationals. That’s why I race for these events, because of the whole scene. I’ve already qualified for nationals, so I thought I’d stop by and see if I could pick up some money.”

The event, the second in a series of four, wasn’t all just serious maneuvers and pirating. In the Air Show, longtime-freestyler Zak Stone, who owns The French Press in Edwards, showed off with a backflip – which promptly got him disqualified. Competitors can’t get inverted, and Stone, a judge, gave a good example. Mogul Mania might be the only event in America where a judge would try to get booted from the event – except, maybe, for figure skating.

“I’m an old pro,” he said. “These younger guys deserve it. They have such a wide range of talents and they’re using them in such creative ways. They’re taking this to another level. Jimmy Schad’s a guy I envy.”

With the warm, spring-like weather softening the snow, other competitors took their chances on the challenging course. Vail’s Shannon Crockford captured the men’s sport division trophy, while Tracy Jolles took the women’s crown. Vail’s Simon Gerson took top honors in the combined Telemark/Snowboard Division, Zachary Bignell picked up the win in the men’s 15-19 division and Vail’s Michael Box and Heidi Kloser earned victories in the boys and girls 14-and-under division.

The young talent reminded organizer Jeff Brausch, owner of Highline Sports and Entertainment, of when the event started eight years ago. Guys like Toby Dawson, who earned his second-straight bronze medal Saturday at the World Freestyle Championships, got their start on the bumps of Cookshack.

“It was the first event we ever did on Vail Mountain,” Brausch said. “We’ve always had some of the top competitors in the nation. A lot of great freestylers have come through here.”

And why again was there a pirate in the crowd?

“I’m not always a captain,” Captain Morgan said while loosening his red boots. “I like skiing too.”

The next Mogul Mania event is scheduled for March 8, with the final event slated for March 22. Visit http://www.mogulmania.com or call (970) 476-6797 for more information.

Ryan Slabaugh can be contacted at (970) 949-0555 ext. 608 or at rslabaugh@vaildaily.com.


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