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Behind the Scenes with Team Americas at Skiers Cup
Posted on March 9, 2015

Team Euro and Team Americas hiking to the start of the day one venue with the Matterhorn in the background

Eddie Bauer freeskier Andy Mahre just wrapped up his participation in the international head-to-head freeskiing battle of the Swatch Skiers Cup. We reported on the competition and, unfortunately, Team Americas lost the two-day event in Zermatt, Switzerland, by the close score of 20 to 16. But more than just the result, the competition was an opportunity for the best freeskiers in the world to link up in an epic Swiss location for some friendly competition and some bluebird pow runs. Our LYA correspondent Shannon Skouras reports on what went down in between televised action and behind the scenes at the Skiers Cup. —LYA Editor

Big backflip for America, Andy Mahre lays one out in the slopestyle

Words and Images by Shannon Skouras

A drop of sweat dripped off my forehead, disappearing into the snow in front of me. “Thank goodness for ski straps,” I thought to myself, as I re-adjusted my skis onto my left shoulder for the sharp, narrow turn ahead.

The sun’s warm rays beat down on us as we made our way up the steep boot pack that led up to the ridge of the mountain. Out of nowhere, the sounds of ski boots walking on metal (followed by the infectious laugh of Kaj Zackrisson) filled my ears and I looked up. We had reached a metal walkway (with holes in it that could easily swallow your leg whole) that connected the lower boot pack to the upper one… and Kaj was getting a kick out of the fact that the ice on his boots, combined with the uphill slope of the metal walkway, made it very difficult to do anything but slide back down to his starting point… over and over again. In these situations that we put ourselves in, day in and day out, any wrong move or step could result in certain death—but moments like these, where the silence is filled with laughter, these are the moments that make the adventures truly unforgettable.

“In these situations that we put ourselves in, day in and day out, any wrong move or step could result in certain death—but moments like these, where the silence is filled with laughter, these are the moments that make the adventures truly unforgettable.”

 

Taking a moment to rest, I glanced up at the towering peak that stood before me. We were climbing the ridge that led to the base of the Matterhorn to inspect a face that sat just below it. In just a few days’ time, this face would be the venue for the backcountry slopestyle—and I don’t think that they could have picked a more spectacular location.

 

 

We were in Zermatt, Switzerland, for the Swatch Skiers Cup (and for the Swiss chocolate, of course). Andy Mahre had been chosen by Team Americas captain Seth Morrison to be one of 18 athletes to compete in this prestigious event, an event that tests the rider’s backcountry line choice, slopestyle and big-mountain skills. It was our first day on the hill and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The snow gods had blessed us with a bluebird powder day and we were given the morning to freeski.

“Beautiful mountains, fresh snow, good friends, infectious laughter, endless fun— these are the reasons that we all started skiing in the first place. In the end, the event that took all of us to Zermatt didn’t end up being the reason we were there.”

 

And believe me, there was no way that we were going to leave any cliffs, drops or sick lines untracked. Lucky for our crew, local Swiss shredder and Team Europe member Sam Anthamatten was our guide for the morning, a situation that we took full advantage of. With Sam in the lead, Seth, Andy, Cody (Townsend), Sage (Cattabriga-Alosa), Sven (Kueenle), Logan (Pehota), Dana (Flahr) and I headed toward a cliff zone that we had scoped from the gondola. One by one, we picked our lines and launched into the fresh powder below… well, we launched into the fresh powder and shark rocks below. Who needs those edges anyway?

Hooting, hollering and utter pandemonium ensued as the pack ripped down the mountain. In true train-like fashion, we followed each other off wind lips and off little poppers that were scattered all over the run. When we got below the tree line, we scattered—weaving through trees, dodging hidden rocks, individually seeking out our own alleys of untracked powder. Shooting out onto the cat-track that led back to the gondola, I looked up to see Sage’s smiling face as he cautiously climbed over a fence (with his skis still on, mind you) next to someone’s home. I couldn’t help but chuckle as a little old Swiss lady walking her dog nearby shook her head at Sage and his awkward situation.

 

Beautiful mountains, fresh snow, good friends, infectious laughter, endless fun— these are the reasons that we all started skiing in the first place. In the end, the event that took all of us to Zermatt didn’t end up being the reason we were there. Yes, it brought us all together in that location, but the memories that we will cherish from this particular adventure won’t be of the backflip that so-and-so threw or the epic cliff that someone landed.

“We choose which memories to hold on to and which ones to let go of. Although it is easier at times to remember a disappointing run or the landing that you wish you had stomped, don’t.”

 

They will be of Sage acting out one of his hilarious stories (believe me, you will feel like you are there), of strolling through the cobblestone streets of Zermatt with Logan our first morning in Switzerland, of listening to Seth and Andy reminisce about their morning shred mission in the couloirs together, of watching and laughing hysterically at the Europe team’s pre-comp video (a must-see; the Chinese downhill race at the end is absolutely terrifying), of Team Americas heavyweights Tanner Rainville and Rory Bushfield snoring in complete unison (although out of tune) one night, and of the beautiful falling snow that fell while the boys tried (they looked like a bunch of newborn giraffes) to play hockey against each other on the outdoor ice rink on our last day in Europe.

We choose which memories to hold on to and which ones to let go of. Although it is easier at times to remember a disappointing run or the landing that you wish you had stomped, don’t. Instead, remember the feel of snow spraying into your face as your skis blast through 12 inches of fresh powder; the sight of snow slowly and silently falling all around you as you stand on top of the ridge that you just climbed; the smiles plastered across everyone’s faces after an epic run. In the end, these memories are truly the only ones worth keeping… and the ones that will stay with us forever.

SkiersCupTwo_Andy&Shan1

Check out the First Ascent ski gear Andy rocked for Team Americas at Skiers Cup at eddiebauer.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: - Monday, March 9th, 2015
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