Action-sports enthusiasts the world over converged thursday, August 17th in Portland Oregon’s Rose Quarter, for the second annual Vans Invitational. Sensory overload best describes the scene that we were greeted with upon arrival at the Dew Tour’s Northwest most stop. Coming straight from Government Camp, this was culture shock. After battling our way through toiletry vendors, crazed children, and getting briefly lost in the carnival-like maze, our eyes fixated upon the ever familiar, traveling rail jam.
Snow—via ice blocks—was trucked in—oddly enough all the way from Southern California, and was sculpted into place by such High Cascade diggers as James Jackson and Bryan W. Fox. The setup consisted of three features—a flat-down ledge on riders right, a towering double kinked rail in the center that stood over six feet off the snow at it’s highest point, and a relatively mellow down ledge on riders left—all back dropped by the mighty Willamette River.
The invited list of contenders was short but sweet—last year’s winner Yale Cousino, along with Pat Milberry, Jonas Michelot, Colin Langlois, Chris Rotax, Mike Casanova, Kevin Casillo, alternate Andre Cameron, and Portland locals Justin Rister, and Corey Noble.
Practice commenced at just after eight p.m. with the hour-long final beginning at nine. Some highlights of the night included Colin Langlois’ opening gap to lipslide on the kink ledge, Milberry’s 50-50 front 180 to switch 50-50 on the center kink, Yale’s front board pop 180 to board mid-slide out to regular, and Jonas’ was on some real jedi sh-t with a back 180 switch 50-50 to switch front three out.
In other notable maneuvers, Kevin Casillo dropped the Jersey hammer with a massive 50-50 to front three off the kink. Rail assassin Mike Casanova front boarded through the kink and did a hardway switch front 360 to switch 50-50 down the ledge. And for the trick of the night, Jonas finessed a switch front 270 onto the flat down ledge popping 180 into the down and 270ing out—unfortunately time had already been called.
In the end Casanova took first, Rotax’s consistency earned him second and Langlois took third. Casanova however handed his award off to young Jonas, feeling that he was more deserved of the trophy.
Vans Invitational—August 17th 2006—Portland, OR
1. Mike Casanova, Breckenridge, CO
2. Chris Rotax, Monkton, VT
3. Colin Langlois, Morrisville, VT
4. Pat Milberry, St. Paul, MN
5. Jonas Michilot, Bloomington, MN