Friday, March 9, 2007

Newcomb wins free ski competition at Taos

WRHS graduate competes for first time in big mountain event

Express Staff Writer

Bryce Newcomb

He'd never competed in a "big mountain" free ski event before, but Bryce Newcomb won it anyway.

Last weekend the 2006 Wood River High School graduate claimed men's top honors at the 2007 Salomon New Mexico Extreme Freeride Championships at Kachina Peak near Taos.

Nineteen-year-old Newcomb, who played soccer in high school and skied for the Sun Valley Ski Team, had competed on shorter courses, but the Kachina Peak event was his first big mountain competition.

Towering at 12,000 feet, it's the highest free ski venue in North America. Competitors have to hike for 40 minutes just to reach the top for their runs.

"It was my first big mountain event," said Newcomb, a first-year chemistry major at the University of Nevada-Reno. "I knew I could compete with those guys, but I didn't know I was going to win."

Free skiing is not for the feint-hearted. Competitors ski over or around cliffs, rocks and other rugged terrain and are judged on style, fluidity and aggressiveness.

Newcomb recorded a score of 62.4 to lead a distinguished field, including Colorado's Chuck Mumford who placed second and Arapahoe Basin's George Casaletta who wound up in third.

Newcomb said that the key to winning is to choose a good line down the mountain, don't stop and make it look easy.

With his first big mountain victory under his belt, Newcomb has plans for other competitions,

"Now I'm pre-qualified for all the events, so I'm going to Jackson Hole next week," he said.

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