Taos, New Mexico (4 March 2013) - Wanaka skier Sam Lee has made a welcome return to competition placing seventh at the 2013 Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships in New Mexico. The event is a 4* Freeride World Tour Qualifying event (FWQ).
"Six weeks ago I knocked myself out and had to spend a night in hospital, so the plan for this comp was to ski within my limits and land all runs on my feet," says Lee. "I managed to stick to the plan and I finished up in seventh overall, a result I'm really happy with."
Fellow New Zealander Colin Boyd finished fourth overall in the snowboarding division.
The big mountain competition was held from February 28 - March 2 on Taos' famed steep terrain with venues including the ragged chutes and cliffs of the West Basin and Kachina Peak.
Ian Borgeson and Francesca Pavillard-Cain took home wins in the male and female skiing divisions with Justin Bobb and Kaitlin Elliot claiming victory in the snowboarding events.
"The weather was great, but conditions were challenging for the athletes," said Taos' Alejandro Blake. "The venues were firm, despte recent snowfall, and that made them unforgiving for the athletes. Even the smallest mistakes were punished."
The athletes competed in Taos' West Basin venue for two days before moving to the high altitude, alpine environment of Kachina Peak. With an altitude of 3804m and hike-to-only access this is one of the most challenging venues in North America.
"The level of competition was extremely high for the finals on Kachina," said event founder, Tom Winter. "It's a tough venue because you have to hike at altitude to reach your start. But we're seeing athletes come to this event with a very serious demeanour. It's obvious that they are training hard to compete here at Taos and to be at their best. And that approach was reflected in their skiing and riding."
The next FWQ for Sam Lee will be Castle Mountain in Canada and he's ready for the challenge.
"Now that I know how I stack up against the locals I'll be looking to push it a bit harder in the coming stops," says Sam Lee.