The Great Yank-Euro Ski-Off

Final Score

But wait! The contest takes a shocking turn: They become friends!     Photo: Nathaniel Welch

BLACK WON THREE challenges (steep skiing, dishwashing, and straight-lining) to Perret's two (throwing a shoe and partying). So, technically, Black is our winner.

But let's pause a moment before declaring him Absolutely, Without Peer, the Finest Freeskier in the Solar System. Perret, after all, has withstood vicious jet lag and the brain-frying stress of speaking in a foreign language for six days.

Also, during another photo shoot atop Whistler Mountain, he pulled the competition's best trick. We were milling about aimlessly when Perret opened his backpack and produced a bottle of wine. He then removed several wineglasses and announced that the vino was a Viognier pressed from grapes grown in his own backyard. He'd skied off cornices all day with fragile glass in his pack. Had the contest taken place in Chamonix or Verbier instead of electrolyte-swilling North America, the move might have secured Perret victory right there. In Europe, freeskiing honors the whole ski lifestyle and its ancient sophisticated attributes. On this side of the Atlantic, freeskiing is more a rebellion against the tight-ass conventions of the sport; it's more likely to flash tattoos than corkscrews.

As Black happily tippled Perret's wine, it was clear the week had become less a clash of the titans than a chance for some intercontinental bro-brah bonding. Whatever testosterone-fueled competitiveness they harbored, it was crowded out by their shared passion for their sport and a united effort to combat their true common enemy: summer.

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