The Ripzone Big Air event went down in visibly slow, slushy snow conditions Saturday evening with a few thousand spectators crowding in around the Whistler Village Gondala base. Twenty-one competitors battled it out on the single big air jump taking two runs each, with the top four placing runs advancing to the semi-finals where they’d go head to head.
Starting in a raised scaffolding with a ramp drop in, competitors croutched and pumped their legs hard in order to gain enough speed to huck and spin themselves into the second round. Some survived better than others. Jesse Fox threw a huge backside nine that was followed by Andrew Hardingham’s own straight-into-the-fence backside seven. After the first round Marc-Andre Tárte was in first place with a cab 1080. Guillaume Morisset was holding second with his frontside seven. However of the two, only Tárte would qualify for the finals and advance with a second place standing.
The second round of jumps went something like this. Mike Page with a smooth frontside seven. Daniel Migneault going big, but coming up short, and many other riders taking turns spinning threes, fives, and sevens-some stomped but a lot sketched the landing or came up short.
Travis Williams would advance into the finals in fourth place with a supped-up stalefish version of the backside seven he’d thrown in the first round. Josh Feliciano was right there too, moving on to the semi-finals in the third place seat. Fletch was tossing some of the sickest spins of the day, and as another viewer noted, “would have won it all hands down, if the format would have been on the best trick overall.” In the second round, Fletch stomped a switch backside inverted seven to follow up the backside rodeo seven he dropped in the first round. Advancing in first place was Mike Osachuk who’d been large and consistent with a switch backside inverted five in round one and a frontside seven in round two.
The semi-finals and finals were a bit of wash. The format was head to head where the better jump would be awarded one point, the first rider to two points advancing in the finals. The rider in the higher placing decided who went first. This left the higher scoring rider with the option of stomping an easier trick if his competition slammed. In the semi-finals first seed, Osachuk, jumped against fourth ranked Williams. Second placed Tárte jumped against with third placed Feliciano. This is where it was happening-the two biggest tricks of the night went down before the riders even hit the finals.
In the first jump, Fletch went first landing a smooth and stylie backside rodeo seven. Tárte went switch cab 1080-large and solid. “Josh is fucking awesome, so I had to step it up,” he yelled into the announcer’s microphone. Tárte got the point. Round two Tárte tried for a twelve but instead rotated a gigantic cab 1080, Fletch answered with a backside rodeo nine and got the point for the round. Points even, the two had to go for a third jump-Fletch went first sketching the landing of an off-the-hook backside inverted nine. Tárte played it safe with a cab five and advanced into the finals.
The finals continued the head-to-head format with the first rider to two points ranking. Overall they were uneventful. Fletch versus Osochuk for third, Tárte versus Willams for first. In the end Tárte (who also easily could’ve won a rudest mullet contest) earned himself a cool 8,000 dollars for first, Williams pulled 6,000 for second, Osachuk made 3,500 for third, and Feliciano didn’t go home empty handed with 1,500 dollars for his fourth place finish.
Ripzone Big Air Results 1Marc-Andre Tarte