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Sunday, January 27, 2002 -- McHenry, MD
Ford Big Air Series 2002 (iPO Event Id#: 4814)
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Cross Results] [Big Air Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7] [Set 8]

Boarder cross
A little friendly boarder cross for starters
We hope you didn't spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon watching the Steelers and Patriots. If you did, you obviously missed the really big show at Devil's Arena Terrain Park on the slopes of Wisp at Deep Creek Mountain Resort (and a great opportunity to work on that late January tan!)

It all began with the skier and boarder cross events starting halfway up The Face, a steep black diamond trail that lies just above the entrance to Devil's Arena. The finish was waiting at the bottom, for those that made it, with the DJ giving the play-by-play as he pounded the house with digital tracks that got rave reviews.

The first gate was cake, but the second gate was wicked and forced everyone to attempt an almost 180-degree left hand turn. If you survived this crucial turn, and avoided the carnage that it often brought, you aimed back across the mountain for the next gate. It again required a sharp edge to cut back into the center of the slope and line up for a run into the terrain park.

Skier cross
First to the bottom wins
Picking up speed as the gates became more forgiving, it was now a sprint to the finish. Catching the edge of the spine on the second to last gate made for a nice crowd pleasing hit to complete the run (along with a little more carnage.)

In the boarder division, 22-year-old Mark Nestor came back from a second place semi-final round finish to win the final. 18-year-old TJ Nine battle his way to second as the opportunistic Dylan Kiedrowski slid in for third. Kudos to 10-year-old Dylan for duking it out with the big boys and making the podium.

And let's give another shout-out to Mia Capps and Elizabeth Stump. These two ladies didn't have the luxury of a women's division and went head-to-head with the men. Capps made it as far as the semi-final round before being eliminated.

Mia Capps
Mia Capps gets the ladies some air time
The skier cross required four rounds of racing to determine a winner with Danny Ellis running the table. Ellis finish first in all four of his heats to take top honors. In a little pay-back, Tim Williamson took second over Guy Beitzel after having finished second to Guy in their quarter final heat.

With the winners in the cross battles determined, it was now time to let it rip on the two biggest hits in Devil's Arena. It was show-time at the Big Air competition.

Three judges scored the skiers and boarders on a total of four jumps, two each on the two big ramps. Your best score earned from each judge, on each jump, was then totaled. In the end, the highest possible total score would be a 90, a perfect 15 on each jump awarded by all three judges.

Jack Alvarez brings the goods
While the X-Games didn't actually make it to McHenry, Maryland, 23-year-old extreme skier and X-Games qualifier Jack Alvarez did. Watching Alvarez executing huge inverted air during the warm-ups, including a 720 Iron Cross Rodeo Flip, had everyone bringing out their A-game.

While the rules of the competition don't allow any inverted tricks (your hip must stay below your head or it is a disqualification), the sky is still the limit. But there are two other very good rules. First, you must strap on the brain bucket, that's just plain smart and the lawyers require it. Second, unnecessary vulgar language does not impress the judges, and your mom wouldn't like it either.

Letting their sick tricks do the talking, the big dogs were quick to start showing their teeth. Alvarez was going big but missing some of his landings left the door open.

Old School Grandpa
Why that's a "Screaming Tich", of course
Maybe noticing the opportunity, local talent Taylor Glotfelty, skiing for Nordica and Smith, was ready. On his final jump Glotfelty attempted his first ever 1080... and nailed it. "Everyone was just telling me to go for it, so I did," said the 22-year-old.

Even the "Old School Grandpa" (he's an old 25), RC Tichnell, was putting on a show with his trademark "Screaming Tich". "Sort of a daffy grabbing the front of your ski," explained Mr. Tich.

But when the skiers scores were totaled, it was Alvarez and Glotfelty tied for first with a score of 80. The tie-breaker went to Alvarez based on his one point advantage in Intensity scores. Glotfelty was still pleased, "It was just cool skiing with him," is all he had to say.

The snowboarders weren't about to let the skiers steal the show. They started right out with some of the crowd favorites: The Kiedrowski Brothers!

Garrett Kiedrowski, great at 8
Along with Dylan, his younger brothers Garrett Kiedrowski, 8, and Blake Kiedrowski, 5, participated in both the cross and big air events. Displaying ability well beyond their years, these young dogs pack plenty of fight. They made a clean sweep of the 10-and-under big air awards, and it seems they had no peers.

And throw in another atta-girl for 20-year-old Mia Capps. She had absolutely no peers as she was the only female competitor in the big air. That's our kind of girl!

However impressive, the Kiedrowski's and Mia still have a long way to go before they're ready to be top dogs on the Ruff Riders. This laidback team consists of some of the best local snowboarding talent. Most impressive with the judges on this afternoon was Mark Nestor, fresh off his boarder cross win. On his way to a commanding big air victory, Lestor ripped a sweet 720 cork screw. His 81 point total was the highest score awarded any competitor, in any class.

Ryan Kitzmiller
Kitzmiller lets it all hang out
Ryan Kitzmiller, another Ruff Rider, wasn't thinking points when he asked the judges if it would be alright to go for a huge backflip. They said sure, "but we can't award you any points," they added. So be it. The DJ hyped the crowd... Kitzmiller tore into the ramp... and bam! A beauty of a laid out backflip. Trademark Kitzmiller!

What a show. Glotfelty was dead-on when he stated, "Wisp may be a little mountain, but it has a lot of good skiers." We can know agree, it is a quality mountain packed with plenty of great terrain for skiers and boarders of all types.

After a good day on the slopes, and in the air, it was time for the material rewards. Thanks to the generous sponsorship provided by Ford, Rossignol, K-2, High Mountain Sports and Rudy's Outdoor Adventures, there were more than enough prizes for everyone to bring home the goods.

Big Air Pic
And we'll see you later...
It was almost as much fun to watch as it was to participate, and surely less painful for some. With everyone who plays getting a long-sleeve series T-shirt, and everyone cleaning up at the prize table, and a price to play of only $10, do you think they'd let this 38-year-old in the game?

Just remember, we'll be back for more on February 24th at the next Ford Big Air Series event. So come and play with the big (and not so big) dogs. Or you could stay home on the porch, and maybe they'll have reruns of that Pittsburgh vs. Patriots AFC championship game on for you...