King of Darkness

May 6th, 2023

Winter Garden, Florida

The King of Darkness was a long tournament, with preliminary rounds starting Thursday morning, and the finals taking place on Saturday night. In the opening rounds, Nate Smith set the bar for the rest of the tournament being the only person to run 41off (10.25m) during the weekend. Round 1 of Men’s Slalom ended with Smith on top of the leaderboard, and five skiers tying the next best score of 3@41off. After round 2, skiers were cut down to just the top four competitors of the weekend. Thomas Degasperi, Freddie Winter, Will Asher, and Nate Smith were the few skiers remaining in the tournament. Of that field, Smith and Asher were the two skiers who remained on the water, earning the right to compete in a head-to-head slalom competition in the finals. Asher finished skiing with a score of 2@39.5off (10.75m) and Smith came away with the win by running 41off for the second time this weekend.

In the women’s slalom division, Whitney McClintock-Rini and Regina Jaquess were clear favorites to go to the finals, being the only women to run 39.5off. After two rounds of preliminary skiing, the top four skiers advanced to the first round of the finals. Allie Nicholson, Jaimee Bull, Regina Jaquess, and Whitney McClintock-Rini were all set to compete to ski in the final head-to-head round. Bull and Nicholson ended their skiing tied at scores of 3@39.5off, and Jaquess and McClintock-Rini tied with scores of 0.5@41off to qualify for the final round. In that round, Jaquess scored 5@39off, but was bested by McClintock-Rini who skied through the full pass to win it all!

Alongside slalom, the King of Darkness is also the first major jump tournament on the Tour. The qualifying rounds were exciting with eight separate skiers breaking the 200ft (61m) mark to qualify for the final round of night jump. Overall skiers Dorien Llewellyn and Joel Poland tied for the longest jumps of the weekend, each hitting 227ft (69.1m) in the second round! Late on Saturday night, under a full moon and some floodlights, Freddy Krueger came away with the win by jumping 226ft (68.8m) in the final, outscoring the next furthest jump by 6ft.

Women’s jump was exciting as well! Hanna Straltsova started the weekend strong by jumping 186ft (56.7m) in the qualifying rounds to set a strong standard for the other women to try and beat. However a nasty crash in the final took her out of contention. At the end, Regina Jaquess finished the weekend as the women’s jump champion, leaping 178ft (54.3m). No stranger to the top of the slalom podium, this rarer jump victory is even more impressive after her devastating knee injury of less than two years ago.

Joey Gilroy





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