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Tabkes Competition Quiver of a World Title 2011

Posted by Praxis Skis on

Learn what the World Freeskiing Champion had on his feet during the 2010-2011 season

The 2011 season of the Freeskiing World Tour was a powder-chasing roadtrip. No year in the last six comes close to the quality of skiing the tour came upon at each stop. Of the six events, we skied fresh snow on finals day in five of them. But regardless of snowfall, conditions in the competition venue can change right up till you drop in. Even during your run. So all competitors do something a little different when it comes to choosing their skis. Some ski one pair all year regardless of snow conditions or the venue. Some have a ski for hard snow and a ski for deeper snow. I’ve tried lots of different strategies and combinations of skis over the years and I’m sure I will never be totally satisfied. I’m lucky enough to be supported by Praxis Skis, an amazing company specializing in hand-made freeskiing boards, and those guys make all of this possible. Here are the skis I used this year when I won the world title.

Drew Tabke, Chile

Chilean Freeskiing Champs @ El Colorado and Argentinian Champs @ Las Leñas
Backcountry 190cm. (Specs) Marker Duke binding. 4th place and 3rd place.
I chose to bring this ski to Chile for three months last summer. I wouldn’t normally compete on a Marker Duke binding but I was limited in how much gear I could bring. The skiing in the central Andes can be inconsistent – one day you’ll have deep powder under the sun, and the next the fearsome wind will show up and blow all the snow into the pampas. It hadn’t snowed for weeks up to the El Colorado comp, but the snow was nice and spring-like and the Backcountry handled the transition between the chattery spots and slush easily. It worked great in Las Leñas too, where it again hadn’t snowed for weeks until a few inches dropped the night before the comp. The wind was favorable and the venue was covered with consistent wind-deposited powder with the occasional scoured, icy patch. The Backcountry was the right again.

Chilean Champs on Santa Teresa. ¡Chi chi chi, le le le, VIVA CHILE!

Canadian Freeskiing Champs @ Revelstoke, BC
Concept 187cm. (Specs) Rossignol FKS 18 binding. 2nd place.
The first time I skied the Concept at Crystal Mountain, WA, I knew I was hooked. The conditions that day were a foot of fresh powder over an ice crust from earlier in the week. The Concept made fun, fast, slashy turns in the powder and then hooked up automatically when I’d bottom out on the rain crust. It seemed like one of the most versatile skis I’d ever been on. I took it to Revelstoke along with my Protests in case it dumped.

Drew Tabke, RevelstokeDump it did, but I elected to ski the Concept on day 1 of the competition anyway. The line I chose went through some really tight trees in two sections and I wanted the most nimble, technical performance I could have through that type of terrain. I also found a small jump to 360, and with the Concept it was easy to get the trick around.

Day 2 I stuck with the Concepts but I obsessed over the decision the night before in the hotel room. We were taking a helicopter up to Mackenzie Face and there was a chance for it to be really awesome powder conditions in which case I would ski the Protest. But there was a lot of avalanche activity around the mountains in the preceding days and some reports of variable snow despite the huge snowfall so I stuck with what the Concept. It was a good call as helicopter bombing, ski cutting, and hand charges thrown by ski patrol brought down almost all of the fresh leaving a punchy, dangerous expanse of unpredictable snow. The versatile Concept took care of business.

The Extremes @Crested Butte, CO
Concept 187cm (w/ new molding). FKS 18. 14th place.
Protest 196cm. FKS 18.
Ahh, Crested Butte. It was my first time to the Extremes, but I knew ahead of time that jump-turning would be a prerequisite, so I again showed up on a Concept. It was a new pair as the one I had originally was a beta version and a serious blem – having shifted in the ski press one ski had come out 2mm wider than the other. The new pair also had the new multiple camber molding. Day 1 was tough, moguled, rocky, and nasty. Perfect Concept terrain.

And lo and behold, it snowed. A lot. I swapped my bindings over to the Protest the night before the finals on day 2 and got face shots, to the dome, in my comp run. It was likely the deepest snow I’d skied in a comp and was stoked to have the big boards.

North American Freeskiing Champs @ Kirkwood, CA
Protest 196cm. (Specs) FKS 18. 5th place.
Kirkwood is tricky every year in the spring. It seems like every time I’m there it snows three feet and then the sun comes out. Sometimes it gets too warm and bakes the snow too much, leaving a chunky, manky mess. Sometimes all the snow avalanches, making other problems. I had the RX with me in case of variable snow, but this year the conditions were unreal. Consistent powder covered the entire Cirque, none of it slid during control work, and though the sun was out it didn’t get too hot. I skied the Protest both days and damn did that feel good.

Freeskiing World Tour Finals @ Snowbird, UT

Drew Tabke, Snowbird

RX 189cm. (Specs) FKS 18. 1st place. Overall world title.
Snowbird rocks. I love having the last stop of the year in my home mountains. The venues for the Bird tend to get more traffic before the comp and during inspection than any of the others so although I was hoping for a miracle dump to ski the Protests, I knew I’d probably use the RX. I had moved to the RX from the Concept as my non-powder ski. It is a little bit longer and softer so it makes big, high-speed GS turns down wide-open slopes and chopped up snow which was what I thought would be best on venues like Silver Fox and North Baldy at Snowbird. Conditions were again laughably good and both venues filled in with amazing wind-deposit powder in the days before the event. For both days, the masses of competitors moved through for their inspections and runs and the ski performed perfectly in the soft crud left behind.

And that concluded the competition season. With spring upon us most skiers I know are getting ready for some of their biggest trips of the year. Here in Washington, the same is true. I’ll be going on a 10-day trip in the North Cascades with a new Protest under my feet. The new Protest has the backcountry as its priority with lighter materials in the core and an updated shape. I am excited about the option to have binding inserts for your specific binding build into the ski, effectively bolting the binding onto the core instead of drilling into it. In my case I’ll have the inserts installed for a Dynafit FT12 binding, for my particular sole length.

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