Sports » Features

It’s all good at Orage Masters

K2 team takes soggy slopestyle competition



There is no event anywhere like the Orage Masters, which is part of the reason it's always been billed as the "anti-comp."

The prizes are amazing, the terrain park features are real enough and the skiers are among the best in the world at what they do, yet it never feels all that serious. The word "stoked" gets thrown around a lot on the competition circuit, but this is one of those rare contests where the word has meaning.

And in the pouring rain no less.

The 2010 edition of the Orage Masters took place on Saturday, with eight factory teams each sending four athletes - three guys and a girl - to face off on a unique slopestyle course. This year the event moved down to the village, which was good for a couple of reasons; for one thing, it gave the general public a chance to take it all in and enjoy the spectacle of top skiers hucking themselves while wearing costumes. For another, it allowed the event to take place without any delays for fog, as would probably have happened further up the mountain.

Event director Mike Nick said it was too bad that the Orage Masters have had rain the past two out of three years, but in the end he said it didn't matter all that much.

"It was a horrible day, but we ended up with a big crowd at the bottom - and you can imagine if it was a sunny day it would have been 10 times that," he said.

"The teams have really taken this event on and made it their own - the costumes, the themes, the choreography, the skits. It's like some crazy play out there on a stage. And every year I say it can't get better and it just seems to get better."

There are no plans to change the format, where team members compete at the same time and then judge each other's runs out of 10.

"If it's not broken then don't fix it, and it's definitely not broken. Just the fact that we had the shittiest weather ever the last two year - it was so bad that if this event could have been broken it would have been, but it can't be broken. It can't."

The competition started out with eight teams - Volkl, Line, K2, Salomon, Surface, Armada, 4frnt and Amplid. Following the first elimination the teams that were knocked out of the contest each sent an athlete to compete in a fun Chinese downhill race down the course wearing short skis with the dins turned all the way down and snowman masks that made it impossible to see. Only one skier made it to the bottom, Banks Gilberti, winning $1,000 cash.