Team Vail finished second and Whistler, B.C.’s crew¿complete with uberpro Brian Savard¿went home (to a lot better snow) with third-place honors.
The “team” concept put a new twist on the otherwise pretty typical “band and board” theme, the band being George Clinton Saturday night at Vail’s Dobson Arena. Resorts were invited to send three riders¿two guys and one girl¿to this year’s event. The female riders and one male rider from each team competed in pipe (the female’s best score after two runs being combined with her male counterpart’s best of two), while the third member took on the big (but not especially big) air in a best-of-three format.
After a mostly sunny morning in the silky smooth and XXL pipe on Golden Peak, Vail coeds and relative unknowns Rachel Nelson (the girl) and Kirk Short (uh, the guy) were sitting in first and looking for sponsors after edging out Breck’s big-name duo of Kyla Duffy and Chad Otterstrom (whose sister and brother-in-law came out from Minnesota to watch) by about five points.
Kirk loaded his runs with a backside five, a crippler, and a frontside seven to beat out Otterstrom’s big, third-hit Mctwist and crippler seven to Haakon flip, punk rock blaring from speakers all the while. Other pipe notables were Team Copper’s Chauncey Tanton (Burton) who won Fender Guitar’s “biggest air” award and is now fondling a new Fender Strat.
Vail’s local pride, Rachel Nelson¿only eighteen years old¿took home the women’s Fender. She beat Duffy’s 540 with consistently high and smooth straight airs mixed with a 360.
But by the time the afternoon big air (complete with a four-door Ford truck under the jump) rolled around, it was all Breck. Nick Drago, who’s been making a name for himself this season, beat out Vail’s Ryan Hobart (in his first big air contest ever) by more than ten points, securing the win and the $10,000 for Summit County. Although still licking an ankle wound suffered a couple days earlier, Drago stomped a corked-out switch frontside 540.
Canadian Brian Savard made up some ground after the halfpipe part of his team failed to impress. Savard, with his big-air antics, almost single-handedly bumped the Whistler team up to a respectable third.
After the contest judges had put down their pencils, riders like M3’s Mikey LeBlanc¿visiting Vail to shoot video with Whitey¿took to the perfect pipe for an unedited version of going off.