After a two-year hibernation period, the Orage Masters has awoken in scenic Sun Valley, Idaho. At a time where the competition skiing scene has top-level skiers with the Sochi Olympics in their sights, the Masters has become a last vestige of the spirit of freeskiing. The three-night, two-day long spectacle is more about giving back to the sport by letting loose and letting freeskiing be whatever the athletes feel like it should be.
With 8 teams in attendance, there was no shortage of shenanigans on Saturday during the main event. The event kicked off with Toy Soldiers going mano a mano with the Traveling Circus Pizza Delivery Crew. The Toy Soldiers came out in full regalia and proudly displayed Old Glory while throwing an onslaught of big floaty airs and technical rail trickery. Not to be outmatched, the TC Pizza Crew stole the show from the get-go with a never-before seen stunt involving a moving jump, a stationary skier, and a backflip courtesy of Ross Imburgia. This was enough to propel TC into the next round.
4bi9 Mahalo Media was pitted against the Inspired Ganja Force in the second heat. The Ganja Force was in full effect taking a creative and unique approach to the course and flowing runs combining lofty airs, smooth rails, and plenty of safety breaks despite the best efforts of Mickael Descheneaux who came out of retirement to chase these stoney kids around the course hitting them with fines and violations for use of illicit substances.
Meanwhile, the 4bi9 crew was completely oblivious to any legal consequences lapping the course in Hawaiian themed garb and shooting bottle rockets and roman candles off before, during, and after their runs. Another Orage Masters first would include John Ware throwing big ol’ backflips while shooting roman candles from each hand. The clear disregard for safety was enough to get team Mahalo into the next round.
The next matchup was between Level 1 Constructions and Stept. Stept made a major showing with fast food themed costumes, big tricks, and some random debauchery courtesy of a Ronald McDonald who was clearly over the legal limit. Level 1 countered with big trains through the jump section, mid-air cone bonks, and huge double backflips courtesy of LJ Strenio. When the scores were tallied, Level 1 took the win for the round.
The final heat was between the Kids and Me Gustan Aviones – a team of rookies who were last-minute additions to the roster by way of an online video contest. The MGA kids came out of nowhere with some huge trains which had the crowd screaming, but the Kids with a few Masters champions in their crew, knew that it sometimes takes more than good skiing to win the Masters. With the help of some gasoline, the Kids literally left a wake of destruction burning everything in their path (including but not limited to: an S-Rail, the Toy Soldiers bunker, and several lawn flamingos). After the smoke cleared, the Kids advanced to the next round.
With the first round wrapped up and a short lunch break courtesy of Johnny G’s Subshack, the 4 teams who did not advance each sent one skier to compete in the Halftime Hoe-down. With sit-skis waiting on top of the course, the sit-ski Chinese downhill through the course went off, with Shay Lee smoking the competition and taking home $1000 for the Toy Soldiers.
The semifinals kicked off with 4bi9 facing the Traveling Circus. Despite their best efforts and a moving rail, the Traveling Circus crew did not have enough in their gas tank to top the 4bi9 crew, who had thrown huge transfers and began to bring a crowd of girls in bikini tops onto the course. 4bi9 cruised on to the finals.
The second round of the semifinals had Level 1 Constructions facing off against the Kids. Building off of the momentum in the first round, Level 1 kept pushing the envelope of throwing huge tricks, high-consequence skier taps, and creative cone bonks. The Kids also pushed the envelope, bringing out even more gasoline than they had in the first round despite the warnings from Mike Nick, who had been getting complaints from Sun Valley regarding the clear violation of fire code. Ignoring the consequence of being disqualified for blowing up too much stuff, the Kids proceeded to start fires all over the course, one of which was jibbed mid-air by Max Hill. The Level 1 crew went on to win by default, however, the Kids take the title of being “the first team to ever get disqualified at the Orage Masters” which is, in a sense, an honor in itself.
After a day of casually drinking in the sun, both 4bi9 and Level 1 Constructions were pretty loose going into the finals. That didn’t stop them from throwing down harder than ever on a course that at this point had become mobbed with other athletes, groupies and spectators. 4bi9 layed down some impressive runs with huge doubles, transfers, gaps, and positive vibes. Level 1 countered with some huge double frontflips courtesy of Banks Gilberti, double flat 9 shiftys from Chris Logan, late rodeo 5′s from Mike Hornbeck, and big ol’ double backflips from LJ Strenio. With intensity picking up and the clock winding down, LJ took things to the next level and hucked a huge triple backflip off the last booter, bringing it to feet but washing out in the landing. The crowd went absolutely nuts, as clearly nobody- not even LJ- had expected this would go down. LJ became the first person in freeskiing history to throw a buzzed triple backflip, which was enough to get the win for Level 1 productions and a $10,000 check courtesy of GoPro. Runners up 4bi9 Media and Traveling Circus took the second and third place prizes- free trips to Retallack Lodge and Sun Valley Resort.
As the award ceremony concluded, everybody stumbled back to the Sun Valley Lodge for a beer and a bite to eat before decending upon Whiskey Jacques for one last hurrah. At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that everybody who attended the Masters was a winner. The celebratory vibe was enjoyed by everybody in attendance, as we all got to witness an event that will certainly go down in the books as the “craziest scene skiing has ever seen”.
Orage would like to extend a huge thank you to the athletes, fans, Brian Callahan, GoPro, Freeskier Magazine, Retallack Lodge, Johnny G’s Subshack, and most importantly, Sun Valley Resort for playing host to the best Orage Masters to date.
Last but not least, each competing film crew has the opportunity to take home $5,000 for the best edit showcasing the Orage Masters. Full details will be announced shortly and we will have the videos hosted online April 20th. There will be no shortage of gnarly Masters coverage in coming days. Stay tuned!