Canada is a country of definitive variances. The toast is either brown or white, the terrain is barren or mountainous, throwing stuff off balconies is right or wrong, and indoor quarterpipe contests are on time or not.

The Telus Invitational Indoor Quarterpipe Competition, which took place from October 22 to 24, was organized in conjunction with a ski and snowboard consumer trade show at B.C. Place Stadium the 60,000-seat dome football stadium in downtown Vancouver. A stage for music was also set up, which hosted such bands as SNFU, LEN, and Tone Loc. This contest was set up for athletes by athletes.

Friday night was supposed to be a night of organizational meetings, bib assignments, and practice. Unfortunately, the ice flume took longer than expected to build, and it began to melt under the jaundiced and unimpressed eyes of the quarterpipe riders. As everyone stood around the plywood, scaffold, and ice sculpture, waiting for completion, the call was made. Practice was canceled for the night.

Imagine being at a stoplight, revving your engine alongside another driver, and thinking you’re going to show them a thing or two. You catch the yellow of the cross street’s light and, with the accelerator trembling underfoot, you know it’s almost time to screech off the line to victory, leaving your opponent choking on the smell of burnt rubber. Instead, you stall your car and frantically try to restart the engine in a futile attempt to regain some dignity. Well, that’s what it’s like when us Americans go to Canada and try to show them what macho drinkers we are. I was not the only Yank stumbling around the streets of Vancouver with a regained respect for the “maple leaf liver” that night.

An early practice was scheduled for Saturday morning and, fortunately for those of us who like to take our own sweet-ass time, it was delayed for construction again. This allowed us all to wander around the snow show, eat hot pizza pockets, and reacquaint ourselves with the dog who’d savagely bit us the night before.

Somehow, the magicians of snow and ice managed to get the crushed-up ice crystals to stick to the prefabricated Astroturf and plywood transition, and the jumping was on. There were a few tentative and hesitant trial runs, and then there was Trevor Andrew who charged it right off the bat and twisted his ankle badly enough to get sent to the penalty box. Rio Tahada also had an exciting first attempt and sent everyone on the platform scurrying with a backside rodeo to mattress. The contest started off with 30 guys and three women from around the world. Natasza Zurek, Kim Dunn, and Kim Bonsack made it to the finals and were bragging all day about being “in the top three.”

The qualifiers and finals were first broken up by a SNFU set that consisted of three pathetic kids running into each other in a vain attempt to “rock out,” and second by LEN, which from where I sat (far away) looked and sounded as if The New Kids on the Block had kidnapped Björk and made her sing with them against her will. After the contest, Tone Loc played and made everything all right again. The French-Canadians David Aubry, Guy Duchesnes, and Gaetan Chanut were ripping, despite the deterioration of the grassy knoll everyone used for a run in. The other Canadians were–well, they’re “Wildcats” and they’re the ones who left me at the starting line, eating dust and fumbling for my keys. Kevin “One Hand” Salone was going for the consistency and injury-free vote with inverts, Josh “I’m Half-Canadian” Dirksen was launching cross-rockets, and Jason Brown dazzled the crowd by jibbing whatever obstacles he could.

In the end, Natasza, Kim, and Kim finished in the top three for the women, and the men’s category was dominated by Guy Duchesnes–with his huge airs to fakie. Finishing secoond was Jamie Parker, and Dennis Bannock came in third.