The Men's Podium (L-R). Ryland Bell (2nd), Mark Carter (1st), Ralph Backstrom (3rd).

The Men's Podium (L-R). Ryland Bell (2nd), Mark Carter (1st), Ralph Backstrom (3rd).

After days of stormy conditions and over seven feet of snow, the North Face Masters finally launched. The clouds and fog slowly dissipated Monday morning, leaving a slim window for the hundred plus riders to tear down the face of Silver Fox. Needless to say, the conditions were perfect.

Each rider was given one run. One drop from the top of Hidden Peak before the eyes of legendary judges: Tom Burt, Temple Cummins, Andy Hetzel and Julie Zell. Style, fluidity and speed are some of the ways in which the judges view each run. And with the recent snowfall, riders were treated to a blank canvas to show this.

The ladies took to the fresh, bombing cliffs and slashing windlips. Kirkwood’s Rosemarie Daiek charged the course, stomping a hefty cliff at the bottom. Squaw Valley’s Iris Lazzareschi laced a technical path across the slope as well. But Snowbird locs’ Shannan Yates and Kaitlin Elliot were hard to beat, as was Cindi Roller from Brighton. These top three had fast, fluid runs-some better than a lot of the male competitors. Yates claimed her second victory and the coveted Katana Sword by the end of the day.

After the twenty-some ladies ran the course it was time to let the guys have at it. Zach Siebert kicked things for the seventy-person field, cutting up the swath of pow. Travs Rice had some flare up top, slashing a wind lip and hopping over peppered sections, but tomahawked the landing of a near thirty-foot cliff. Rob Kingwell managed to stomp it off an equally big cliff at the bottom, sealing an aggressive run and the fourth spot. Squaw young gun Ralph Backstrom edged Kingwell out of the top three though. Backstrom and second place finisher Ryland Bell came in hot. Both had fast, high scoring runs on their prototype Jones Snowboards.

The other young gun, who actually won the Young Gun award was 21-year-old Ryan Hudson. Apparently, Hudson has only two seasons under his belt, which is pretty hard to tell from his strong riding. Other standouts were Alex Yoder from Jackson and Ross Baker from Reno. Baker had a hard charging run that landed him in fifth, even with a fall.
It was apparent as he skimmed the powder at the finish with a big grin, that Mark Carter had the line of the day though. “I was just winging it,” he laughed at the bottom, out of breath. Carter took to the Silver Fox run like a rabbit, popping and bounding all across the hill all while stomping a few big airs and spraying the judges.

Carter had fun and expounded it. That’s what this event is all about at the core and that’s what I came to realize about this “contest.” Burgers, beers, friends and pow. It can’t be beat.
The Masters is headed to Crystal Mountain, Washington February 9-12 and then Kirkwood, California February 25-27. For more info check out thenorthfacemasters.com

Click to view the complete results below.

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