Vail’s Bouvier wins on Telluride steeps |

Vail’s Bouvier wins on Telluride steeps

Special to the Daily/Eben Wight, MSIThe course on Palmyra Peak on Telluride Mountain began at an elevation of more than 13,000 feet and took skiers like Vail, Colorado's Claudine Bouvier down a steep, rocky face.

VAIL, Colorado ” Claudia Bouvier of Vail had a simple strategy atop 13,300-foot Palmyra Peak ” ski fast and hard.

And that’s what she did in the Subaru Telluride Freeskiing World Tour Qualifier, descending the rocky, 45-degree face with grace and aggressiveness that landed her on top of the podium Saturday.

“It’s really exciting,” said Bouvier, who took home a $2,000 prize. “I compete mostly in park ” halfpipe and slopestyle ” so I didn’t go in with too high of expectations. It was nice surprise.”

Bouvier, 22, already has an accomplished resume as a park rider. She won the Collegiate Nationals park event last year at Keystone, and has placed in the top five in both slopestyle and halfpipe in the U.S. Freeskiing Open.

But big-mountain competitions are a different game, sending competitors down steep and cliffed courses and judging them on technique, aggressiveness, control, line choice and fluidity. Last year, Bouvier won the Young Gun Award, given to the outstanding competitor who’s 21 or younger, at the event at Jackson Hole in Wyoming.

In Telluride, Bouvier didn’t get a chance to inspect the course before Friday’s qualifying round, but it didn’t seem to matter, as she posted the top scores on both Friday and Saturday.

“It’s really steep,” Bouvier said of the course, which started at 13,320 feet and ended at 12,000 feet. “It’s probably steeper than anything around here. And it’s long.”

Some competitors got lifts to the top of course on a helicopter Saturday, but bad weather nixed the rides before Bouvier’s turn, so she had to hike.

She just skied really fast down one of the chutes, she said.

“I decided going into the event that I would go as fast and as hard as I could,” she said.

Bouvier, whose family owns the French Deli in Lionshead, continues to find success in her pro skiing career after recovering from a 2006 accident at the terrain park in Beaver Creek in which she broke her neck. She was back on skis just a few months later.

A graduate of Battle Mountain High School, Bouvier expects to earn her diploma from the University of Colorado in December. She plans to go to medical school.

Bouvier will be participating in terrain park events in the coming weeks, in the Winter Dew Tour at Northstar-at-Tahoe in California and at the U.S. Freeskiing Open at Copper Mountain.

The win at the big-mountain competition in Telluride ” which qualifies Bouvier for the rest of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour ” means her contest schedule got a little busier. She’s now planning to compete next month at the Subaru U.S. Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird in Utah.

Bouvier said she doesn’t prefer terrain-park competitions over big-mountain competitions, or vice versa.

“They both have things I really like about them,” she said.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 970-748-2929 or

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