Top Five Fridays: April 28, 2023

APRIL 28, 2023 | WRITTEN BY Matt McGinnis

Lead Image: Let's be honest, who doesn't love a good sunset park shot? Especially when the skier is as photogenic as this. Shot at last week's Red Bull Cascade event at Winter Park. Image: Winter Park Resort on Facebook

#1: Bobby Brown’s Red Bull Cascade Event Was a Huge Success:

Top Five Fridays April 28, 2023:Red Bull Cascade Park Jump at Winter Park Resort Image

A scene from Red Bull Cascade at Winter Park, featuring one of the few park jumps on the course. Image: Winter Park Resort on Facebook

Hello and welcome to Top Five Fridays, the April 28, 2023 edition! This week’s coverage is a bit different than most weeks as we find ourselves recapping a trio of freeskiing events that all concluded this week. A lot of weeks we find ourselves covering more niche topics or having heavier conversations, which we know can be a challenge for Jeff and Bob to share with our YouTube audience. So, when treated to a slew of unique contests this week, we opted to take the opportunity to cover each of them, making it one of the more “fun” write ups in recent memory. Without further ado, Jeff and Bob, this one’s for you!

Kicking our Red Bull event coverage off this week is a recap of the inaugural Red Bull Cascade contest, brought to us by Bobby Brown. As you might recall, we previewed this event just about a month ago when it was first announced. In that highlight, we called attention to the event’s unique format, in which skiers were being asked to put together their best all around run down a custom made, 2 mile course at Colorado’s Winter Park. Along the way, athletes would have the opportunity to combine unique jump lines, natural hits, and photoshoot worthy rail set ups in an effort to showcase their complete freeskiing skill set. The format for the event was tournament style, pitting two riders against each other with the better of the two runs progressing into the next round. While we’d love to jump right into results from the event, Freeskier has actually done an incredible job of recapping the event in a way that makes it easy to rewatch. On their site, you can check out the day one coverage as well as day two coverage, where they’ve provided side by side videos for each round of the event. So, rather than break down who won, who lost, and who had the highlight runs, we’ll simply direct you in that direction to watch the action for yourself.

One thing we will say before sending you off though, is that Bobby Brown’s vision for the event certainly seems to have come to fruition. Imagined as a competition that focuses less on the number of flips and rotations in the air or switch-ups on rails, Brown wanted to create a contest that would highlight each rider’s unique way of seeing the mountain, mixing natural hits and spins in with park features. Regardless of whose run you watch, you’re likely to witness exactly that. From front flips off natural knolls, to switch 540 tree taps, and even just flawless 360’s off trail bumps, the runs compiled by Cascade competitors were an absolute pleasure to watch. With a successful year one in the books, we find ourselves already looking forward to year two. For full coverage of this, check out Freeskier’s day one recap, as well as their day two recap.

#2: Jesper Tjader’s Red Bull Unrailistic Showcased Some of the Best Rail Skiing Talents in the World:

Top Five Fridays April 28, 2023: Jesper Tjader's Unrailistic Competiton Image

Jesper himself getting down on the triple s rail. In the background: the stratospheric rainbow rail. Image Shot by Emrik Jansson for Red Bull.

In other “a professional skier convinced Red Bull to produce an event based on their specific skill set” news, this week also saw the first ever Unrailistic competition take place, hosted by Jesper Tjader. Taking inspiration from Tjader’s equally popular and jaw dropping Unrailistic 1 and Unrailistic 2 edits, this competition was essentially a rail jam featuring some of the most unique and challenging rail features ever presented in a competition format. With a triple s rail, octo-kink, a cinnamon roll rail (which is more or less a spiral of sorts), a double “X” rail (sorry, what?), a rainbow rail that scraped the stratosphere, and plenty of other options, those asked to participate in the event certainly had their hands full when it came to putting down a full run. Still, despite the high technicality of the rails, as well as the poor weather conditions, athletes treated the substantial crowd of spectators to quite the show.

As for the event itself, it followed a somewhat traditional judging style, which likely led to its approachability for more general audiences. In a format that’s familiar to most viewers, athletes had two runs each, the best of which was taken as their subtotal. To make things a bit more fun and unique, there was a simple plot twist: scores from the prior day’s best trick contest were then added to the best run, giving the final score. For example, if an athlete scored 8 points in the best trick (judged on a scale of 1-10), and they scored 72 points in their best of two full runs, their total would be 80. While this didn’t seem to ultimately have an effect on the final results, it’s certainly a cool way to add a bit of an X factor in an otherwise straightforward format.

Throughout the event, athletes put together ridiculous feats, showcasing some of the best rail skiing in the world. Hunter Henderson and Cody Laplante 50-50’d the stratospheric rainbow. Andreas Hatveit did a *checks notes, rewatches replay many times* 50-50 to regular, double frontside switch up, to blind 450 out of the double X (spider) rail. Joel Magnusson laced a switch 270 on, front 450 out on the triple s rail. In finals, Hatveit showed off again with a 50-50 to 360 out of the stratosphere rail. The list could go on endlessly. To say that the inaugural year for the Red Bull Unrailistic event was a smashing success would be an understatement. Fortunately though, you don’t have to simply take our word for it. You can watch the full replay right here, courtesy of Red Bull.

#3: The 2023 Swatch Nine’s Was a Celebration of Skiing, Snowboarding, Style, and Synchronization:

Top Five Fridays April 28, 2023: Swatch Nines Big Air Synchronization Image

Is this peak big air synchronization? Maybe. Probably. Image shot by Lorenz Richard for Red Bull.

Moving right along, into our third round of unique freeskiing competition news, we bring you coverage of this year’s Swatch Nine’s event. We previewed this event just a couple of weeks ago, but if the name isn’t familiar to you, we don’t blame you. Since its inception about 10 years ago, the event's title sponsors have changed multiple times, as well as the name itself, having gone from Nine Knights, to Nine Queens, to Nine Royals, to now simply just “Nine’s.” Still, despite the amorphous names over the years, it’s highly likely that you’ll recognize the contest itself as it consistently takes place on what’s become an iconic aesthetic for the event. In addition to the high level of skiing and riding that takes place here, a high level of park building does as well, with snow spheres, bowls with tunnel exits, and perfectly sculpted park jumps all piled on top of eachother to create what’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing freeskiing venues in the world.

This year was no different, as the Swatch Nine’s venue was stacked with creative hits and opportunities for a full roster of skiers and riders. While the event culminated in a Big Air contest, the real story here is the weeklong session that produced some of the best footage of the season, chief amongst which is the plethora of synchronized hits, with riders teaming up to showcase their skills both simultaneously and in quick succession on the venue’s main feature: a massive triple lipped step over jump. While this feature was ultimately the standout, and the one that will be making most of the rounds on social media, there was a plethora of other interesting opportunities, including unique transitions, a gap over an embedded skate bowl, and a perfectly sculpted snow bowl, just to name a few. Given this canvas and a week's worth of action, athletes were given ample opportunity to stack unique footage.

As for the Big Air contest? While that was never the focus of the event, it still provided an impressive amount of entertainment. Underscoring the event’s focus on fun, the Big Air event took on a jam format while tasking riders to put down their best technical trick and their best style trick, ultimately adding the score of each one to account for the rider’s total. As such, riders had the opportunity to showcase their ability to send massive rotations and triple flips, as well as their ability to slow things down, focusing on style and body control. A perfect example of this can be found in Max Moffet’s winning approach. For his style trick, Moffet nailed a cork 360 bring-back blunt grab. In his technical trick, he completed a double cork 1440 cuban grab. Between these two tricks, Moffet proved to be the best that day at highlighting both his ability to go big, and also to keep things smooth and stylie. At the end of the week, as was the case with our first two highlights, the Swatch Nine’s event proved to be a huge success, and yet another event that we can’t wait to see return again next year. Until then, check out this recap from Red Bull, and be sure to watch the embedded video at the top of the page to get a taste of the action.

#4: Ready for Summer Skiing? Wyoming’s Beartooth Basin Announces Summer Opening, Plus a Slew of Other Options:

Top Five Fridays April 28, 2023: Beartooh Basin Terrain Image

A look at Beartooth Basin's terrain, America's only summer-only ski area. Image: Beartooth Basin on Facebook

Finally, for our last highlight this week, we’re going to shift gears a bit and share some information regarding summer skiing for those of you who aren’t quite ready to see the season end. Kicking things off, we have news this week from Wyoming, where the United State’s only summer only ski resort, Beartooth Basin, has just announced their intent to operate this season. Situated high up on a mountain pass near the border of Wyoming and Montana, Beartooth Basin relies on a variety of factors in order to operate, primarily an adequate snowpack and a timely reopening of the access road. Last year, these variables didn’t come together and Beartooth Basin took a maintenance year. This season though, the stars have aligned and the ski area has announced that it will officially open for the season on Memorial Day weekend, at the end of May. For just $50 a day, $40 a half day, or $395 for a season pass, guests at Beartooth Basin will have access to two poma lifts, accessing what amounts to a big mountain style, high altitude bowl. While the resort isn’t particularly large, it has arguably some of the best big mountain terrain available to the public in the United States from May until it closes.

Of course if Beartooth Basin isn’t your thing, this year’s incredible snowpack has led to a number of other options to get some late season turns in. Currently, there are a number of resorts in California, Colorado, and Utah that remain open. As we get later into Spring and even into Summer, the lists of ski areas operating in these states will certainly dwindle, but it won't be entirely depleted for quite some time. In California, Mammoth Mountain and Palisades Tahoe both intend to stretch the season as long as possible, with plans to easily make it into July. In Colorado, Arapahoe Basin is known to do the same, although July would be a surprising closing month for them. In Utah, Snowbird will also extend their season, and with nearly 900” on the season, they too could stretch well into Summer. Finally, if these options aren’t ideal for you, or if you’d prefer to head somewhere that offers a structured camp of sorts, there are a number of other places you can go. From Mt. Hood, Oregon, to Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, or even Woodward at Copper Mountain, a number of destinations remain for you to get your summer skiing fix. To explore these options a bit further, check out this article from Ski Mag, highlighting six of the best on-snow summer ski camps. If you do happen to have plans to check out any of these camps or destinations, or if you know of somewhere else we can ski in North America this summer, we’d love to hear about it, so let us know in the comments below!

#5: And Now, Your Edits of the Week: Shiffrin Signs Off For the Season in Episode 6 of “Moving Right Along”:

Check Out the 2023 IFSA NorAm’s Finals Replay - We Guarantee You’ll See Some of These Names on the Freeride World Tour Someday:

Unfortunately we're unable to embed this video, but we wanted to share the link anyways. You can check it out right here!

Travis Rice’s Natural Selection Tour is Too Mind Blowing Not to Share. Check Out the Final Stop of the Season, in Alaska:

Finally, Enjoy a Recap of the Party of the Year, Alta’s Annual Unofficial “Frank World Classic” Season Send Off:

Written by Matt McGinnis on 04/28/23