The first day of the Gravity Games at Mammoth Mountain featured fog, big air practice, fog, halfpipe practice, fog and snowboardcross course inspection. The snowboardcross qualifiers were scheduled for today, but were canceled on account of the fog.
The weather has been the biggest story of the contest so far. “We’ve all been praying for snow,” said announcer Dave Duncan. “A week ago there was nothing here. Now we need to pray for it to stop just for the weekend.”
At the big air, riders waited up to 15 minutes between runs for the fog to clear enough to even see the landing. Michi Albin, Ben Hinley were spinning big, but the unofficial practice air of the day went to Marc Andre Tarte for his big ol’ frontside 900. Leslee Olson corked a big old 5 right into the banners in the landing zone (like she did at the US Open), but she was okay.
The injured stuck to the sidelines. Chad Otterstrom was running a video camera after getting hurt yesterday. “I pulled my hamstring,” he said. “It’s not completely torn, but I’m staying off it.”
Sessions rider Tina Dixon was checking out the practiice but said she’s not jumping. She’s still recovering from her bruised feet after landing flat at the Breckenridge Grand Prix. “I couldn’t even wear shoes,” she said. “I had to wear slippers for a week. The bottoms of my feet were completely black and blue.”
Meanwhile, Peter Line skipped big air practice and poached a couple runs in the pipe during the womens’ practice. It could have been something to do with how great the pipe was. Snowboard program director Josh Chauvet and the rest of the Mammoth staff did an amazing job with the pipe. The riders were pretty happy about it. In fact, Keir Dillon said it was “the best pipe I’ve ever ridden.”
The new super-transitions were allowing Luke Wynen, Ross Powers, Abe Teeter and Keir to at least 8 feet out on the second hit. It was snowing and blowing and Peter Line was riding in his t-shirt.
During the women’s’ practice Barrette Christy, Cara-beth Burnside, Ann Molin, Tricia Byrnes and Aurelie Sayers were riding strong, but Kim Stacy was blowing minds with backside airs six feet out.
In other Gravity Games news the crazy treadheads competed in the freestyle snowmobile jumping, which was continually described by the announcers as “an on-snow version of freestyle motocross.” A guy from Valdez, Alaska won, but I didn’t catch his name.
Stay tuned tomorrow for more in-depth coverage of the Gravity Games live from Mammoth Mountain.