2008 Paul Mitchell Opens Freeski Tour Starts with a Bang at the North American Open

Dan Lobring@dlobringContributor IMarch 7, 2008

Breckenridge Freeski Competition Nets Record Participation in Men/Women’s Slopestyle and Superpipe Events

BRECKENRIDGE and CHICAGO (MARCH 6, 2008). — If the early feedback from the athletes is any indication, the 2008 Paul Mitchell Opens Freeski Tour’s first event, the North American Open, has officially changed the landscape for freeskiing in the United States.  The North American Open took over Breckenridge Ski Resort from February 21-24, 2008, as hundreds of amateur and professional freeskiers, as well as media and industry members descended upon Breckenridge to see how this breakthrough open event would run.  Produced by world renowned freeskiers Simon Dumont and Jon Olsson in conjunction with rEvolution, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency and Freeskier magazine, the three-day weekend event consisted of Slopestyle events on Saturday, and the Superpipe competition on Sunday. 

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(Simon Dumont and Jon Olsson At NAO Rider Meeting)

“I think everyone was part of something special here,” said Dumont, a multi-winning X Games medalist who is considered one of the best superpipe riders in the world.  “I’ve had more fun [at the NAO] than I’ve ever had at an event.  Hopefully we’ve set a precedent – it’s only going to get bigger and better.”

Together with Paul Mitchell and Breckenridge Ski Resort, rEvolution teamed up with Simon Dumont and Jon Olsson to develop a new judging format for the North American Open.  This qualifying “jam session” format was widely praised by the athletes and sets Opens Freeski tour apart from other freeski events.  The judges awarded bibs to those competitors, pros and amateurs alike, that they felt were worthy of moving on to the finals.  The selected athletes joined a small cast of invited athletes in the finals, including Jon and Simon, with a more traditional, three-run final to decide the overall winners.

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(Jon Olsson and Simon Dumont Hand Out NAO Bibs)

“I’m not going to put my name on something unless I get up there at 6:30 in the morning and shape those jumps,” said Olsson, a multi-winning X-Games medalist. “We wanted to create an event that was as good as open event could be…and I think we succeeded.”Of this format change, another athlete remarked on her blog that the format, “…is way better than the traditional two runs like at the US Open and all the other major opens because you get more time to have fun and throw down all your tricks.”

Jon and Simon’s involvement went way past having their name on the event and participating in the preliminary judging.  Jon was spotted every morning preparing the jumps and the course to ensure that it was one the safest for all the competitors – even when Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating.

“You can never control the weather, but Jon and Simon did an amazing job,” said freeskier LJ Strenio. “They gave people extra runs, which never happens. It was the absolute best way to handle the situation.”

Faced with snowy conditions and dropping temperatures, more than 35 men and women competed in the Slopestyle finals out of a field of more than 180.  Swedish freeskier Jacob Wester and Colorado native Keri Herman took home 1st place in the competitive Slopestyle finals.  Complete Mens/Womens results for the Slopestyle final are below:


1. Jacob Wester
2. Jon Olsson
3. Tanner Rainville
4. Bobby Brown
5. Michael Olenick
6. Simon Dumont
7. Luke Nutting
8. Peter Olenick
9. Josh Bibby
10. Andres Backe

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(NAO Slopestyle Final: Henrik Harleau - Majesty Professional Photography)

More than 25 men were in the field for the Superpipe competition on Sunday afternoon.  With many of the athletes crashing on at least one of their runs due to wind and snow conditions, it was close final that saw Maine native and multi-X Games medalist Simon Dumont and Canadian Keltie Hansen pull away and take home 1st place. Complete Mens/Womens results for the Superpipe final are below:


1. Simon Dumont
2. Dan Marion
3. Matt Duhamel
4. Marshall Lacroix
5. Colby West
6. Peter Olenick
7. Christian Allen
8. Duncan Adams
9. Taylor Felton
10. Evan Schwartz

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(NAO Halfpipe Final: Taylor Felton - Majesty Professional Photography)

Many of the athletes who participated in the event or even just came down to watch thought that it was one of the best open events to date in freeskiing.  This attitude was due in part not only to the style of the event, the high level of competition and the athletes, but more so due to the sense of community amongst freeskiers.  With some of the best skiing during the day, lunches on the hill and parties in the evening, the bar has been set for the remaining dates of the 2008 Opens Freeski tour.

“The best part of these events is that it brings everyone together,” Henrik Lampert wrote in his blog the day after the NAO wrapped.  “For a few days, we enjoy the company of friends, skiing during the day and then spending time together enjoying the venues that host these awesome events. After great days on snow, countless dinners and fun parties this event [NAO] goes into the books as one of my favorites.”

YouTube Link

Craig Elledge, rEvolution vice president, business development, who oversees the management of the 2008 Paul Mitchell Opens Freeski tour, thought that the event truly transcended traditional open events in freeskiing.

“The success of the inaugural North American Open demonstrates that with the right partners we can break the mold in winter sports,” said Elledge.  “With the help of dedicated sponsors, such as Paul Mitchell, and involved athletes such as Jon and Simon, we hope to continue this trend toward a modern movement in Open freeski events.”

If you’re bummed you missed out on the North American Open, get your TiVo’s ready.  All Opens Freeski events, including the North American Open will be televised on Fuel TV later this year. 

Halfpipe TV Schedule / Slopestyle TV Schedule
April 15 at 8 PM EST   April 8 at 8 PM EST
April 15 at 11 PM EST  April 8 at 11 PM EST
April 19 at 9 AM EST   April 12 at 9 AM EST
April 21 at 12 PM EST  April 14 at 12 PM EST
April 26 at 12 PM EST  April 19 at 12 PM EST

Opens Freeski is designed and produced by rEvolution, an independent sports marketing and media agency.  More Opens Freeski event and registration information can be found online at http://www.OpensFreeski.com.

The remaining Opens Freeski events are as follows:

Big Bear Open
Bear Mountain Resort
Big Bear Lake, Calif.
March 8-9, 2008

Mount Snow Open
Mount Snow Resort
West Dover, Vt.
March 22-23, 2008

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