Backflips aplenty at An Torc freeskiing event

Conall Strickland with a clean backflip. Picture: Hamish Frost
Conall Strickland with a clean backflip. Picture: Hamish Frost
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BACKFLIPS and 720s were the order of the day at the Dividing Line Invitational freeskiing contest last weekend, as the best riders from the East of Scotland took on the best from the West on the slopes of the Boar of Badenoch (An Torc) in Drumochter Pass.

With a foot of fresh snow on the ground and strong gusts of wind threatening to blow away any equipment that wasn’t tied down, the nine skiers of Team East defeated the nine skiers of Team West by ten points to eight over two rounds of man-on-man competition.

Organised by Inverness-based skier Peter MacKenzie, an ambassador for Whitedot Skis and winner of the inaugural Coe Cup freeride event at Glencoe in 2012, the contest format was modelled on the high-profile Swatch Skiers’ Cup – a sort of Ryder Cup of extreme skiing which launched in 2011.

In the first round, the competing skiers (and a few snowboarders) were paired up at random and put head to head – one rider from the West against one from the East.

The judges then watched them ski a course that combined a series of natural and man-made features, and gave a point to whoever they thought rode with the most style and the most impressive aerial manoeuvres.

In the second round, competitors were ordered with the less strong riders going first and the strongest going last.

Stand-outs at the Dalwhinnie Whisky-sponsored event included Michael Jachacy and Lewis McWilliam of Team East, who both attempted double backflips, and Robert Kingsland of Team West, who landed a couple of big 720s.

The event wasn’t taken entirely seriously, as demonstrated by Olympic downhill skier Finlay Mickel - he skied the first round on normal skis and then contested the second round on a rarely-seen monoski.

The riders’ choice award went jointly to Kingsland and McWilliam, who received the same number of votes from the riders - Kingsland for massive rotations, McWilliam for his huge double-backflip attempts.

“The atmosphere was really great - really encouraging,” said MacKenzie. “There was a lot of cheering from both sides.”

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