Many a chairlift ride has been spent charting a line down steep chutes, over cliffs, and through trees in the surrounding terrain. Most of us never actually put down tracks on that route, but all of us recognize the skill it would take.

The skiers and riders who really do lay down lines on the steepest, gnarliest of routes will once again gather in Taos Ski Valley for an important world championship qualifier in the Salomon Extreme Freeride Championships March 3-5. Top performances at these B-circuit contests earn points on the world rankings and, possibly, a chance to join the top-echelon tour that runs year-round.

The Taos event, one of 30 such qualifiers around the world, has a purse of $12,000. The northern New Mexico competition has continually jumped up in the ranks of freeriding competition, which challenges professional skiers and snowboarders to negotiate the most audacious route with style and speed. This year's event will be a qualifier for the premier venues on the Freeride World Tour in Sochi, Russia; Squaw Valley, Calif.; Chamonix, France; and, the final Nissan Xtreme at Verbier, Switzerland.

Taos also has moved up 4-star qualifier for women, who will be sighting in a spot at the world tour finals in Verbier, Switzerland.

The three-day competition pits skiers and ‘boarders against the chutes and cliffs on the face of Kachina Peak and in the West Basin. Spectators can get a good view of the action from the base of either venue.

More information.