Here’s something I don’t get to say very often: the kick off of the On Board Entertainment big air series took place March 6th, 1999 at Mountain Creek, NJ. It was most certainly the first time I ever went to a pro invitational big air in New Jersey, but not the first time they’ve had one. In fact, the first OBE event was held there years ago, back when it was called Vernon Valley, and even with the ever shortening careers of today’s snowboard pros, several riders from the first event showed up again.

The turn out of riders wasn’t huge, and with injuries during practice taking a few more competitors, it looked like everyone was guaranteed a piece of the $5000 purse. Dave Olcott lamented, “Looks like were going to have to start paying people to hit Stimilon jumps.” Although when it came down to the actual event, there were 17 men and 3 women who made it past warm-ups. No one complained that the jump wasn’t fun, but the take off was about 4 feet shorter than what we usually see from Stimilon, with the same size gap, but a super short landing. Some riders, both male and female, were having problems clearing the jump, while others were over shooting it.

Of course, with the inclement weather, the amount of people coming up short became more prevailent throughout the qualifiers. By the men’s second run more competitors were stopping before the jump than were actually hitting it. The contest was put on a 30 minute weather hold, enough time for the rain to change back to snow (the first natural snow of the season for Mountain Creek), and the run-in to firm back up. This break also gave riders a chance to wax their snowboards, which some people had obviously neglected to do before the event. The field of competitors consisted mostly of riders who do the Stimilon series (as it was the main qualifier for the event), and many of them took advantage of the allowed inverts. Rodeo flips were, not suprisingly, popular, as were 720′s and backside methods. Since the prize money for the guys was spread out over the top 10, everyone felt they had a chance at taking home at least $200, so more effort was put in by everyone involved.

The women’s competion was short, to say the least. The first run looked to be all about strait airs, until Eva Bonner spun a back 360 right off the bat. She continued to spin, but had trouble with landings, and ended her day with a big double grab. Lauren “Nugget” Naudascher decided consistent landings and tricks were the way to go, and chose to do methods for all three runs, but was the only girl who landed every time. It was Anna Bock who walked away the champ though. Her two strait airs, a method and a mute were clean and stylish, but it was the barrel roll backflip secured her $500.

After the men’s first run, Nick “The Biggest Name There” Francke was in first for his 540 rodeo flip. Zach Diamond, who was definitley the crowd favorite, possibly because he invovled them the most by practically landing on them with his backside 720, was close behind in second. Other strong showings included Jim Kelly, who nobody knew could ride jumps, and Jer Cook, even though he grabbed tindy.

The next run didn’t change the standings much, with both Zach and Nick landing their tricks clean again. Tom Flocco came in with a backside rodeo and put himself right in there. After the waxing session at the Burton tent, less people were coming up short, and landings became more consistent. The third run went much in the same fashion, by this time the snow had begun to accumulate, but was falling slower, so it didin’t effect the riders much. The contest was certainly too close to call from watching, so nobody really knew until they announced the official winners.

The judges awarded Nick Francke’s ability to land standing up after flipping with third. Tom Flocco’s 720′s and rodeos earned him second place. Of course, the man of the day was Zach Diamond, who’s technical spins and stomped landings were exactly what it took.

After the awards, the winners were rushed off stage so the most important part of the day could take place. Cypress Hill took the stage, and all the ghetto Jersey kids who probably don’t even know what a snowboard is got what they had been waiting all day for, the chance to smoke weed while watching Cypress Hill play.




ResultsMen

1. Zach Diamond
2. Tom Flocco
3. Nick Francke
4. Adam Moran
5. Pat Bridges
6. Steve Brassard
7. Jim Kelly
8. Jeremiah Cook
9. Drew Heifetz
10. Rich Nesshoever
11. Justin Rutz
12. Chris Novak
13. Ed Fernandez
14. Matt Bate
15. Brian Guido
16. Rick Klinger
17. Jason Ortiz

Women

1. Anna Bock
2. Lauren “Nugget” Nauducher
3. Eva Bonner