“You open ’em, I’ll close ’em,” is a line made famous by the 1993 Hollywood movie, Aspen Extreme. On February 6, 2016, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort held the Grand National Powder 8 Competition presented by GoPro. This has been the first time Jackson Hole has held the competition since 2001. However, Aspen Snowmass has hosted the USA Powder 8 Championship event for more than 10 years.
What is a Powder 8 competition? Teams of two (a lead skier and a trailing skier) try to make the perfect figure “8” tracks in the snow. Teams are judged on three key criteria:
- Roundness/Symmetry – Teams try to make the most perfectly round figure 8 turns.
- Synchronization – The trailing skier tries to “hide” behind the lead skier and match his or her movements at the same time.
- Dynamics (a.k.a. speed) – Teams try to show as much dynamic movements as possible.
Jackson Hole’s event consisted of a local qualifier event in January 2016. There was so much interest in the event that a lottery had to be held in order for teams to be selected to the qualifier. The Grand National event was a “one and done” type of a competition. Teams hiked up the famous Cody Bowl and to the Powder 8 face where they went one at a time, farming the snow as they went. The conditions were epic to say the least and the snow was powder, as well as dense. Teams found it hard to move and get the speed up for that all important dynamic score.
The Aspen Snowmass event has been popular over the years. The format is a little different than the Jackson Hole competition. Teams get two “seeding runs” on a groomed trail at Aspen Highlands. After the seeding round, teams head up to the infamous Highlands Bowl where the first seeded team goes head-to-head against the last place seeded team. Second place seed goes against second to last and so on and so forth. Day 2 of this competition takes the teams out to backcountry behind Aspen Mountain via snowcat. Teams here go head-to-head based on the seeds from the Highland’s Bowl run. The first and second place teams battle for the title, while the 3rd and 4th place teams battle for the consolation round.
Congratulations to all the competitors that competed in the Grand National Powder 8 Competition at Jackson Hole. This year’s winners was a team from Aspen Snowmass, Thomas Roennau and Jim “Schanzy” Schanzenbaker. They threw done a solid run that was tough to beat. “I just tried to ski fast and clean,” states Roennau. Schanzy, who was following, did everything he could to hide behind the over 6 foot tall, Dane. Roennau is from Denmark. Schanzy has also kept the event in Aspen Snowmass alive for the past 10 or so years as the USA Powder 8 Championship.
The final results can be found here: http://www.jacksonhole.com/blog/the-grand-national-powder-8s-competition-returns-to-jackson-hole/