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Freeskiing Champion CR Johnson, dies in Squaw Valley Accident
Squaw Valley has confirmed that freeskier CR Johnson died Wednesday afternoon while skiing.
Twenty-six-year-old C.R. Johnson was killed Wednesday while skiing at Squaw Valley, Calif. According to a statement issued by the resort, the Lake Tahoe native caught an edge on exposed rocks while entering the Light Towers area above the Cornice II lift. He fell through rocks before coming to a rest several hundred yards below the entry. Ski Patrol were on the scene within minutes, but efforts to revive Johnson failed. He was reportedly wearing a helmet.
Johnson was known in recent years for his inspiring return to skiing after a traumatic brain injury that he suffered in December of 2005. The injury, sustained when another skier accidentally landed on him during a run, left him in a coma for 10 days. He spent 34 days in the hospital and several months in rehab, but was back on snow by the end of that winter. He made steady progress in recent seasons and this winter finished third in the prestigious Red Bull Linecatcher event in the French Alps.
But long before his injury, Johnson was known as a park and pipe skiing prodigy who helped redefine the sport in the first years of this century by proving what was possible on twin tip skis. He was a two-time Winter X Games medalist, earning bronze in the 2001 Big Air and silver in the 2002 slopestyle.
But those years were simply a warm up for the next three.
Between 2003 and 2005, Johnson consistently broke the barrier for how high skiers could go in a halfpipe. His 2003 Winter X duel with Candide Thovex was a defining moment for the young discipline, with Johnson throwing a 900 that stood as a benchmark for several years. And while such huge air usually cost him a result (he never finished higher than fourth in the Winter X halfpipe, due to crashes), his influence on today's halfpipe skiers was greater than any medal could bestow.
"He's the defining person who put halfpipe skiing on the map," says two-time Winter X SuperPipe champion Simon Dumont. "He's a huge part of how halfpipe skiing is right now."
Johnson was also instrumental in bringing park-style skiing to the backcountry.
His film segments in the Tanner Hall/Eric Iberg films "WSKI106" and "Pop Yer Bottlez," in which he seamlessly added off-axis rotations to airs off big cliffs and toyed with switch takeoffs and landings in powder, are considered early prototypes in the evolution of freestyle backcountry skiing. His result at this year's Linecatcher was seen by many as a return to that pre-injury form.
Freeride World Tour - THE TRAM FACE
Squaw Valley, USA – February 23, 2010 – The pressure is rising with two out of four competitions already completed of the Freeride World Tour 2010. By the third tour stage, the leading candidates for the Freeride World Champion title will be looking to make a major impression on the infamous Tram Face in Squaw Valley USA, a face that has never officially been ridden before.
Strictly illegal to ski, the Tram Face is being opened specifically for the Freeride World Tour competition. Its steep and seemingly un-skiable pitch, permanent closure, and tantalizing location in perfect view from Squaw Valley’s Village and base area, have made it a coveted descent among the strong local freeride community. Several of the top American riders are from Squaw Valley (Jeremy Jones, J.T. Holmes, Tim Dutton, Cody Townsend, Elyse Saugstad, Will Brommelsiek) and will clearly be aiming for victory on home snow and score important points on the FWT ranking.
Conditions are great this year with the El Nino weather pattern bringing huge amount of snow to the Californian resort, and history will be made when the world’s best freeriders will get the chance to challenge the steep rock face.
JT Holmes (USA) – local Squaw Valley rider - 10th on the Freeride World Tour Ranking Men Ski:
“I am looking forward to see the first descents that are going to be skied on Tram Face. The event has a potential to be the ultimate show for the public! We consider Tram Face the forbidden fruit and it will be nice to get a taste of it!”
Julien Lopez (FRA) – winner of the Nissan Russian Adventure by Swatch and second on the Freeride World Tour Ranking Men Ski
“As I already have skied in Squaw Valley I have of course noticed the Tram Face. It is a really mythical face! It will without doubts be a great event as the face never has been ridden and it will be a first for all of us. Although I am currently second on the ranking any scenario is possible for the final podium.”
Aline Bock (GER) – Leading the Freeride World Tour Ranking Women Snowboard:
“I feel very honoured to snowboard down a face that is normally illegal to ride and closed for skiers and snowboarders. The Tram Face looks playful with steep sections, nice jumps and many technical lines. I think the riders will provide a great show. Leading the FWT Ranking gives me a lot of confidence and I am still super happy about my win in Fieberbunn, but I also know, that it can change very quickly, so I just focus on the next event, trying to do my best and having lots of fun.”
Leaders of the Freeride World Tour Ranking 2010 after Two Completed Contests (The Overall FWT Ranking Click Here):
1- Candide Thovex FRA
2 – Julien Lopez FRA
3- Kaj Zackrisson SWE
1- Eva Walkner AUT tie with:
Janette Hargin SWE
3- Jess Mc Millan USA
1- Mitch Toelderer AUT
2- Douds Charlet FRA
3- Xavier de Le Rue FRA
1- Aline Bock GER
2 - Susan Mol USA
15th Anniversary of the Nissan Xtreme by Swatch, Verbier – the Final Stage of the Freeride World Tour: 20 March
Since its inception in 1996 the “Verbier Xtreme” has been considered the most prestigious event in the freeride world.. 15 years of passion for freeriding, 15 years of great sports performances at its highest level will be celebrated at the “grande finale” of the Freeride World Tour 2010. For the occasion the 15 former winners of the event have been invited by the organisers. The elite of freeride will once again tackle the mythical North Face of the Bec des Rosses.
Nissan Qashqai to the Freeride World Champions
Nissan, the title partner of the four Freeride World Tour events, will award the two male Freeride World Champions with a Nissan Qashqai.
The 2010 Freeride World Tour's four stages:
1. NISSAN RUSSIAN ADVENTURE BY SWATCH - SOCHI, RUSSIA
Date: Competition postponed to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc - 4 February 2010
2. NISSAN FREERIDE OF CHAMONIX-MONT-BLANC - FRANCE
Date: 31 January 2010
3. NISSAN TRAM FACE - SQUAW VALLEY USA – UNITED STATES
Date: 27 February 2010
4. NISSAN XTREME BY SWATCH - VERBIER, SWITZERLAND
Date: 20 March 2010
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