Schiller catches big air
Friday was freeskier T.J. Schiller’s day. He topped an eight-skier field in the big-air event, and then went on to win the overall title with a solid showing in the moguls at the Ultimate Bumps & Jumps event held at the Steamboat Ski Area.
In the morning, the freeskiers took three jumps off a pair of kickers at the bottom of the Bashor Bowl. Their two best jumps counted toward their scores. In the afternoon, the same eight athletes moved to the free mogul course, which included a small kicker near the top, a rail slide in the middle, and the big kickers at the bottom.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I knew I had a pretty decent chance at doing well,” Schiller said after the final event. “I’ve been skiing really hard this season, training really hard, so I’m always hoping for the podium.”
Schiller found the top spot early by winning a big-air event in a field that included standouts C.R. Johnson, Candide Thovex, Henrik Windstedt, Peter Olenick, Pep Fujas, Simon Dumont and Rory Bushfield.
Johnson finished in second, and Olenick, a Colorado skier, took third in the event.
Event organizers originally scheduled the event as a quarterpipe, but changed the event to a big-air competition late Thursday, when they discovered the quarterpipe wasn’t going to be ready for competition.
“It didn’t matter,” mogul winner Dumont said. “Either way, we were just out here having fun, so I’m psyched.”
Dumont, who prefers the halfpipe to the mogul course, advanced to the finals where he defeated Windstedt to win. Fujas, a former Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club member, upset Schiller in the race for third and fourth, creating a tie for the overall title.
Schiller and Dumont decided the winner with one last run down the mogul course in the Bashor Bowl. Schiller defeated his good friend and traveling partner to earn the overall title and the $12,000 paycheck that goes with it.
Windstedt was third in the overall standings.
Friday’s events will be televised in a one-hour special that will air at 3 p.m. Dec. 26 on CBS.
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Editor’s note: The story was updated at 8:33 p.m.