FreeBOM started in 2014. This article about the 2nd FreeBOM in the 2015 season was published in the 2016 issue of Chillfactor.

Text: Watkin McLennan

PHotos: Robbie Warden

FreeBOM came about after years of asking Necole Lewis, then lead organizer of the ABOM mogul challenge for her to drop the top jump. My vision was that ABOM Mogul challenge could innovate once again. The ABOM Mogul Challenge is one of the longest running mogul events in the world and scattered with historical firsts, most notably involving Nick Cleaver and JF Cusson in 1998 dueling for gold. JF, one of the twin tip revolutionaries was throwing cork 7s, reportedly the first ever in competition.

With the sport of mogul skiing the ABOM Mogul Challenge led the way and continued to evolve but, like mogul skiing it struggles to include a broad range of skiers and those that compete strive to conform to a ridged style, like a ski boot on a foot, limits innovation and flair. Freeskiing is all about innovation and flair and it saddens me to see kids taught a style rather than being taught to just ski. 

So once again I was sharing my vision for an ABOM that encouraged flair and broke a few of the restrictions put in place to help judges rather than skiers. Patto, TBR legend replied “make your own ABOM” – so I did and it was born. The philosophy was and is simple. It is an event that demands passion and encourages inclusion. The event invites all skiers, and the awards are geared towards this. The youth are awarded with the Pigmy Possum and Future focused awards. Those with maturing bodies but youthful spirit battle out for the Mr and Mrs Energetic awards and the event encourages a well rounded family of skiers with the Family run, won last year by the three Eisner brothers who synchronised a flawless run of turns, jumps and yahoos into the 100 strong crowd at the base of Wood Run. 

FreeBOM Spiritual Leader James Philips.

FreeBOM Spiritual Leader James Philips.


Those that read this magazine already know the special qualities of skiing. The sport is a mountain sport buffet of choice. Skiers can go fast, go upside down or go for coffee. Skiers can ski with friends, family and even strangers. It can be about fitness or fun or getting a photo. Skiing is an action sport and a landscape sport and not a sport all at the same time. Freeskiing, we use to describe a state of mind whilst skiing, it is not a style nor is it a competition. Freeskiing is an open relationship with the mountain’s terrain.

This event was designed for these special and often forgotten qualities of the sport. Amongst all the gear and lift lines we must gaze into the distance and offer the world a blank face of amazement. The ski resorts we ski in have been shaped for pleasure. 

The philosophy of the event crafted the judging style. The five of us, Joey Corcoran, Anton Grimmus, Reggae Ellis, Tony ‘Harro’ Harrington and I sat at the bottom… or at least three of us did, whilst two skied  because the judges need to know what the bumps are doing and who’s putting out the best vibes on the chair lift. Joey got to the bottom of one run “common Reggae take a lap, it’s skiing so well”, Reggae looked up at the bumps which sat as islands amongst a sea of grass. “Nothing like a bit of grass to keep you honest… and there’s a few rocks too, you want to hop over them if you can” 

The Spiritual Leader award is the top prize, it is awarded to the skier that embodies the FreeBOM spirit most. I don’t know exactly what that looks like but that’s the idea. Each year I hope it will look different. This year it went to James Phillips. He sported a considered costume that matched the way he wanted to ski. Phillips skied with more regard for the crowd at the bottom than his body. With animal spirit he trashed through the slush run after run and always finished with a smile and a wave towards the crowd that cheered and sipped bubbly. 

At the bottom of a field of moguls a group of skiers assembled. We had joined to celebrate our common love of skiing and enjoy an afternoon in the high country. Amphitheatre”. And just like the festival FreeBOM cheers wash over the bowl like a snowboarder over cliffs. People congregate to freeski with music.