Sydney Fuller edges out women’s title over Mackenzie Mailly
As is often the case, it was a local showcase showdown at the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Telemark Championships in Crested Butte this past weekend. Crested Butte Mountain Sports Team telemark ski coach “Blue Shoes” Mark Robbins took the men’s title with local skier Seaton MacMillan joining him on the podium in third place.
Sydney Fuller battled back and forth all weekend long with homegrown talent and 2009 champion Mackenzie Mailly before Fuller emerged as the champion, with Mailly finishing in second place.
Robbins is a veteran of four previous telemark competitions in Crested Butte, reaching the podium in his first competition taking third place back in 2004.
The other three years he was knocking on the door of the podium but was denied on the final day. So after a two-year injury-induced hiatus from the competition, Robbins came in this year refreshed both physically and mentally.
“Basically, every other year I’ve crashed on my final run, so that was kind of weighing on my mind,” explains Robbins. “My main goal was to stay on my feet.”
It was Fuller’s second time at the Crested Butte event and she was determined to make up for her personally disappointing showing last year.
“Last year I definitely had some regrets with my line choice,” says Fuller. “This year I just wanted to do the hardest line choice possible.”
Athletes were met with fresh snow and limited visibility on day one of the championships, held on the Headwall as a blast of winter weather hit Crested Butte Mountain.
While the overall conditions remained rocky limiting athletes’ line choice, the new snow allowed skiers to make quick work of classic ski lines in the venue.
“The snow quality doesn’t get much better than that on the Headwall,” says Robbins. “Angle Gully was still bony but you could get an edge in and the new snow let people come out hot at the bottom. I just wanted to ski it fast.”
Still, the infamous Pocket Air move seemed unattainable due to the conditions to all but one competitor as local skier Jeremy Wegner was the lone wolf, dropping the Pocket Air move to finish in sixth after the first run.
Seaton and his brother and 2009 champion Colin MacMillan were back at it again as well, charging the Headwall in classic MacMillan fashion.
But the weather ultimately took its toll on the event and the men were limited to one run that day, leaving the difference between first and 10th place at a mere three points.
In the women’s division Fuller and Mailly separated themselves from the rest of the field on the first day.
Mailly closed the day in first place with Fuller just 1.4 points behind her, with the third place woman almost eight points back.
“I was happy to be up there with Mackenzie because she’s hard to beat,” says Fuller.
Athletes were met with tough conditions on day two in the Sock-It-To-Me/Little Hourglass/Cesspool area. While the venue was blessed with six inches of new snow and bluebird skies, the firm conditions underneath never softened up.
“We were all hoping the fresh snow would make for a fluffy landing, but it was more crusty and coral reef,” says Robbins. “The landings were firm and fast. It was hot coming out of there and it came down to who could hold on.”
With the field so tight, the men were relegated to pushing the limits in the Little Hourglass time and time again.
Robbins dropped into Little Hourglass on his first run, flashing it to hold onto first place and setting the tone for him for the final and super finals.
“I felt really solid on my first run so I felt pretty calm and collected for my last two runs,” says Robbins. “It kind of became a mental endurance game staying focused throughout all of my runs.”
Consistency proved key for Robbins, but the title was still on the line heading into the super final with four skiers still within striking distance.
“The scores were so close it was anyone’s game on any run,” says Robbins.
Faced with a chance at the title, Robbins made the most of it, scoring the highest score of the day in the super final to seal the deal on the 2010 title.
Meanwhile, Seaton was questioning if he could even ski on day two, as an equipment check the night before revealed a broken weld in his binding. A jerry-rig job got it fixed so he could do his first run but it was far from bomber.
As he pulled up for his start, some last-second loosening allowed him to get into the binding but did little to instill any confidence in his equipment.
“I almost bailed out,” says Seaton. “I was a bit hesitant in the Little Hourglass.”
Seaton fell on his run and left immediately for the Alpineer to get a new binding mounted unsure if he even advanced. After missing the bus, he hitchhiked back up to the ski area and showed back up at the venue only to find out he had dropped to seventh place but was still in and made a conscious decision to step it up.
“I couldn’t believe I was still in,” says Seaton. “Go bigger and go faster was all I was thinking—and make ‘tele’ turns everywhere.”
Seaton moved from seventh to fifth after the finals and then stepped up into third place in the super final to join Robbins on the podium.
It was a test of wills as well for the top spot between Mailly and Fuller.
Staying with her strategy to ski the toughest line possible, Fuller headed down Little Hourglass airing through the choke and disappearing into the trees.
The crowd held its collective breath until Fuller came charging out to the cheers of the fans and crossed the finish line.
“That was definitely not planned,” says Fuller of her exit move.
Mailly followed suit but stumbled on her landing and Fuller moved into first place heading into the super final.
Fuller then made a small adjustment in her line, looking to finish a bit more in control and stuck the landing out of the choke to close her run with telemark turns and hold on to first place.
“I was just concentrating on landing and controlling my speed,” says Fuller.
Fuller and Robbins skied away with $1,200 each for the win.
“I thought that window of opportunity had kind of closed on my life,” says Robbins.