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Aloha Vibes : The Annual Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge Gallery & Results

Photos: Erik Hostetler

Stoke was high and the swells were massive at the annual Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge at Mt. Bachelor this weekend. A bevy of snowboarders turned out for the event that's all about style, creativity and aloha vibes.

Now in its 6th iteration, the Big Wave Challenge intertwines surf and snowboard mentalities on a course designed for 'freestyle snowboard snow-surfing.' This year's course was one of the biggest to date and boasted seven frozen wave features prime for riders to get barreled on as they slashed, sprayed and spun their way in the best-of two run format. Judges focused on the same elements of big wave surf contests with power, control and speed reigning supreme.

Over 200 riders from far-reaching places including the Gentemstick crew from Japan, Aaron Lebowitz of Soulmotion Snowsurf from Montana, and Bend locals Austin Smith, Curtis Ciszek and Ashley Thornton rounded out the stacked start list.

The three day event allowed riders ample time to perfect their runs, though rolling spring storms created conditions more suited to pow surfing than wave riding. Despite the interment snow showers and milky skies, riders painted the course with vibrant style.

"This brings a lot of people together, with a lot of love and it's cool," said Gerry of the event.  "We all enjoy it, and try to make it a really fun thing. The beach boys in Hawaiian used to say that best surfer in the water is the guy who's having the most fun and I think that really applies to the mountain as well. The guys have a lot of fun riding this course and that's all we can ask for," he continued.

Jared Elston, 17, who hails from Montana, and currently lives in Bend, Oregon slayed the course with confidence and rallied lines that included surf-inspired spins and saucy sprays. The judges awarded his crafty line with highest score of day, an 8.1.

Jared Elston hand plants his way to the win. Photos: Erik Hostetler
Jared Elston hand plants his way to the win. Photos: Erik Hostetler

"I'm really stoked, I was not expecting this at all; I didn't even think I was going to podium, I just came to see what happened and I'm just surprised, really happy," said Jared following the event.

Gus Warbington put out the vibes and claimed second for the men's open division with his effortless steeze and versatility on the course. Allister Schultz, snowboard OG, and current master cultivator for Bend-area weed distributor, Phantom Farms, claimed third for his sweeping carves and laid-back maneuvers.

For the ladies, Bachelor rider, Ashley Thorton,  claimed the win for the second year in a row. Ashley has competed in every Big Wave Challenge and looks forward to the event each year.

“I was in tears this morning just because of how excited I was to do this event,” said Ashley of the contest. "Randomly, I was just crying tears of joy, I was just so happy thinking about how fun riding was going to be today. My boyfriend, [Forrest Devore] laughed and comforted me saying, ‘This really is what you live for’… and hands down it is my favorite event, it compasses everything I love about snowboarding," she continued.

09_Barrett-Christy_BWC_Erik_Hostetler
Barrett Christy oozing with style.

Not to get too misty on you, but Ashley’s sentiment is the vibe the Big Wave Challenge creates. A fulfilling sense of stoke evoked by interacting and playing in our natural environment that’s all about fun and style.

This communal spirit of positivity was the over-arching vibe at the ending awards ceremony in which Gerry thanked the attendees and competitors for their support. He then spoke of a old-school big wave surfer named Duke, a self-acclaimed 'aloha ambassador' that sought to bring positive energies and love to all he did. This Aloha mentality, which centralizes on love, resonated with the mixed crowd of pro snowboarders, surfers, and snow enthusiasts, bonding all together in gratitude for our shared passion of standing sideways.

Check out the full gallery of highlights above and stay tuned for the recap video.

2016 Big Wave Challenge Results

Kane: Men's Open Division
1. Jared Elston 8.1
2. Gus Warbington 7.95
3. Allister Schultz 7.85
4. Alex Yoder 7.65
5. Forrest Devore 7.55
6. Max Warbington 7.55
7. Teepee Harota 7.45
8. Curtis Ciszik 7.4
9. Josh Dirksen 7.4
10. Alex Lopez 7.35

Wahine: Women’s Open Division
1. Ashley Thorton
2. Desiree Melanin
3. Marissa Krawczak
4. Collen Quigley
5. Sarah Gall
6. Erika Vikander
7. Janessa Bork
8. Barret Christy
9. Haruna Kito
10. Bridgette Nelson

Pro Surfer Division
1. Conway Bixby
2. Jason McCaffrey
3. Kea Eubank
4. Chris Christiansen
5. Jason Murray
6. Ian Walsh
7. Kohl
8. Luke Walsh
9. Sean Walsh
10. Shaun Lopez

Keiki: Groms 16 & under
1. Alder Autsch
2. Cole Valles
3. Elijah Pyle
4. Jack Guthrie
5. Noah Brown

Makule: 40 & over
1. Yo Amagai
2. Gordon Bohm
3. JP Martin
4. Ami Voutilainen
5. Jaymo Jamieson

Check out more from the Big Wave Challenge here!