As my alarm beeped at 7:00 a.m., I instinctually rolled out of bed and peered my head through the blinds to check on the weather. Holy Moley; the fence that surrounded my yard had a solid foot and a half of snow on it. I rushed to throw on my overalls and grab a cup of coffee; if I hurried, I could get in a couple of runs before the Big Air started. On my way out the door, I dialed the Road Report, the news was typical; Highway 50 heading westbound was closed at Echo Summit. Oh well, I hadn’t gotten fresh powder tracks all year, so why should today be any different.
After four cups of coffee and an hour or so of shoveling out my driveway, Ian Ruhter showed up at the house and told me the road had opened. The traffic up the Summit moved at a steady pace and in less than twenty minute we were pulling into Sierra’s parking lot. Their were only a few cars in the lot, but the main face down the mountain already looked like my hair after a visit to Super Cut’s. I was bummed that I was gonna have to blow off this powder day to cover a contest, but then me and the Ruht ran into Vans team manager Scott Sismas, who told us the contest had been postponed ’til noon. Hell yeah! People say the tree runs at Sierra are unbeatable on a powder day and after several runs and my knee filling with enough fluid to offer relief for drought victims in Africa, I thought the same.
At 12:15 I hobbled over to the Big Air jump to watch both the men and women huck themselves through what is commonly referred to as practice. The Jumped looked pretty good; the announcer said it was a solid sixty-five feet in distance, I wasn’t to sure about that, maybe a “South Shore” sixty five, regardless, the snow was soft and the landing was steep. As a crowd continued to amass themselves on the decks of the kicker, the contest got underway, with the women division going first. As if it was some sort of miracle, the clouds parted and the sun shone through unobstructed on the women jumping below. This division was small, mostly likely due to the size of the jump, but was still entertaining to watch. Some of the girls had a hard time landing their tricks, but some worthy shredding definitely went down. In the first heat Tara Dakides popped a huge backflip off the jump and rode away clean; Jenna Murano pretty much stomped a switch Backside 360; and Kim Bohnsack scared the field by almost pulling off a backside 540. After the first round, Tara Dakides was in first place, followed by Dresden Howell in second, and Jenna Murano in third. Now it was time for the Men’s Division.
As with women, most of the men were having a hard time landing their tricks: some would come up three feet short of the landing zone, some would head into the jump too fast and overshoot the landing, and others quoting Sean Johnson “looked like a piece of licorice being flung through the air.” Some had calm nerves and were able to pull off some good tricks; Brandon Ruff pulled off a super smooth frontside 540 tail grab, Joel Mahaffey almost pulled off a seven, even though he had never hit the jump before; Aaron Bishop did good five, and one of my homies from the East who now lives in the West, Mr. Lukas Huffman, pulled off a Hindu Flip, which I heard was sick (some ski bunny walked in front of me when he was in the air and blocked my view). The Men’s division moved slowly, and daylight was quickly becoming a thing of the past. As the last few competitors hit the jump, officials for the contest said they were only going to allow the competitors who placed in the top twenty a second run, this decision was met with opposition from the competitors and was quickly crushed; the men’s division would be carried on the next day. As the standings stood, Lukas Huffman and Josh Chapman were tied for first with a 31.70, Mike Wilson was in third with a 31.60, and Louie Fountaine was in fourth with a 30.20.
Since there were only eight competitors in the women’s division, officials decided to run them. Even thoough many women stomped some hard tricks, none of the judges viewed them worthy enough to displace Tara Dakides backflip from first place. Ale Berntsen came in second with a frontside 360, Kim Bohnsack third, with a backside 540, Dredson Howell fourth, with something I didn’t see, and Jenna Murano with a switch backside 360.