It was a good day for Mike “Crash Test” Reinoehl today, the first place winner in the big air portion of the second annual Gorge Games at Mt. Hood Timberline. Mike, who earned his nickname “Crash Test” because he is known for hucking and crashing in contest situations, faced steep competition throughout the morning. Second place Clark Hurlbut from Seattle was throwing near perfect backflips and recently recovered double back flip king Mike Beallo was back to throwing his signature double backflips once again after his infamous double backflip to face plant at Westbeach in April.
For Beallo the third place win was quite a triumph as this was officially his first contest since his accident. “I rode off the accident at Whistler pretty quickly,” said Beallo. “It was a fluke. Todays jump felt pretty good. I was comfortable with it.” On Beallo’s last jump he pulled his first backflip since Whistler and while the backflip was smooth, there was a questionable hesitation that could be seen in the air. In the women’s division things didn’t run as smoothly as contestants would have liked Tina Dixon took first, but sprained her ankle in the process. Of the four female contestants, three were injured with two of the women being taken down on sleds.
Practice began sometime after ten and before the contest even got under way at least three of the contestants were out with injuries The jump was obviously hard as rider after rider aired to dramatic landings. Including the women, at least six of the registered riders dropped out by the end. No one could really say whether it was the design of the jump or just the fact that the riders weren’t expecting such hard snow in the landing that led to the numerous injuries.
In spite of the accidents, most of the riders worked the jump pretty well during the practice session, and unlike last year which was full of lulls and disorganization, the contest went quickly from practice to the final round. One interesting result of all the morning injuries was that before the contest got under way event officials had decided no one could jump without a helmet. This caused a few momentary glitches in the flow as contestants without helmets had to procure one before dropping. The women went first in the big air leading with Tina Dixon. On her second judged jump, the recent winner of the summer X Games big air in San Diego took a spill and became the third female casualty of the day damaging her ankle. She was able to limp with assistance to the sidelines where she sat for the remainder of the contest. The contest format was best jump out of three which still gave Tina first place even though she didn’t get to do her final jump.
In the men’s round there were some smooth, near perfect jumps right off by Canadians Kris Elliot and Allen Traves. Also K2’s BJ Kaiser and Travis Parker were riding strong, and Matt Donahue and Josh King were looking like they could be serious contenders. Most of the riders in today’s competition had impressive big air resumes, but in the end Reinoehln with his backflip 180 took the Gorge Games big air bucks home.
And in the end how did the riders fell about the day?
“It was a good jump,” said second place Clark Hurlbut. ” There was a steep landing, it was a little hard and I have a bruised butt.”