Extreme Exposure: Kelly Slater's new wave, Lindsey Vonn avoids disaster

Monday December 21st, 2015

In this week's edition of Extreme Exposure—a weekly column featuring news and photography from the world of action and outdoor sports—Kelly Slater changes surfing, again, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort gives the gift of terrain and Lindsey Vonn makes the save of the season.

The Gift That Doesn’t Stop Giving

Jackson Hole Resort, one of the most iconic resorts in the continental United States and a center for steep skiing and riding, has given humanity a Holiday present in celebration of its 50th Anniversary: new terrain. The resort in western Wyoming opened a new lift last weekend to live music and a celebration for local riders.

The new Teton Lift is between the Apres Vous and Casper lifts and accesses Sheridan Ridge, usually only available to those willing to sweat on a boot hike. The high-speed quad opens up some 200 acres of terrain to intermediate and advanced riders and marks the first time since 1998 that Jackson has expanded.

Jackson Hole has fostered some incredible talent in the freeride and mountaineering world with the Teton Mountains nearby. Doug Coombs called the mountain home and the go-for-broke culture fostered snowboarding talent like Travis Rice, seen below shredding the new terrain with friends. The mountain also celebrated 50 years with the release of a new film, Born to Be Wild.

A New Wave

If Kelly Slater isn’t going to win world titles, the most well-known surfer in the world is still going to do his best to keep surfing in the mainstream eye. Late last Friday, just after Adriano de Souza captured his first world title, Slater released this video from his team at Kelly Slater Wave Company showing one of the most quality artificial waves we’ve seen yet (creating a feature that could be taken to inland riders has long been a mission of the surf industry).

The man-made surfing movement is already in motion with the Wavegarden in Europe opening up a new facility in Scotland this year. But Slater and his team wanted to do more. This is definitely one of the most advanced features yet—supposedly developed in a secret location in California more than a 100 miles from the coast—with a critical takeoff, a steep wall that allows for high-performance maneuvers and a legitimate barrel section, offering up a dream wave of sorts. “It’s kind of like winning my first world title,” he said in the video. “It didn’t sink in for quite a long time. Seeing (this come to life), I’m 100% positive my team built the best artificial wave ever.”

Subsequently, surf media went mad trying to find the secret location with several different outlets reporting the locale as Lemoore, Calif., about 35 minutes south of Fresno and as about as close to surf culture as Iowa. But of course, in the very near future, Iowa could be a center for Midwestern wave riding culture with a facility like this.

Gut Wrenching

One thing you can be sure about with Lindsey Vonn: even when she loses, she keeps it exciting. And despite a weekend where she relented her overall World Cup lead, it was a victory of sorts for the 31-year-old. Vonn finished second in the Super combined on Friday, her weakest event, boding well for the weekend. But on Saturday, instead of a win she avoided complete disaster. While leading in the downhill, she caught her inside ski and her opposite leg flailed dangerously off the ground. She made a miraculous recovery to avoid a wipeout and despite a DNF in the race, saved her body, and perhaps her season.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t feeling whole for Sunday’s giant slalom but managed a 13th place finish to stay in the overall World Cup hunt. Switzerland’s Lara Gut, who won Friday and Saturday and took second Sunday in the giant slalom, now leads Vonn by a mere 58 points in the overall. I didn’t really feel very balanced today,” Vonn said after her finish Sunday. “I think I rung my bell a little bit yesterday. I tried everything—got a lot of therapy—but wasn’t quite right.” After Christmas, the women head to Lienz, Austria, Dec. 28-29 to finish out 2015.

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