They say you must know the past to understand the present. Well, ask anybody this side of Berthoud Pass, and they’ll tell you 2014 was a time of mayhem in Grand County. Ben Lynch had officially said 'fuck it' to a 'career' in snowboarding and was ripping the resort daily, Tucker Andrews moved to town for the season, Jackson Fowler was working park crew, Alex Burton was floating between here and Portland, and Ryan Arrington was throat-chopping 220-pound jocks at last call without hesitation. On any given day at Winter Park a pack of snowboarders could be spotted snaking skiers and launching four-at-a-time through the jump line. You see, Ben and Ryan had been roaming the runs of Winter Park, fast and reckless, since before they were a hand higher than a mini horse’s hindquarters, and the rest of the boys were falling right in line.
Fear of a Snowboard Planet is a film by Brendan Barry that chronicles the 2013/14 season in and around Grand County.
A place existed during this season called the Looney Bin, and from its iced-over wooden steps, you could see the runs at Winter Park. But more than a house, the Looney Bin was a state of mind fed by Coors, backflips, and Copenhagen. Down the street from the Looney Bin's physical address on Byers Avenue in Fraser is an old watering hole called the Crooked Creek Saloon. In the evening hours before a nearly inevitable ejection, billiard balls were racked, well whiskey downed, and ideas hatched—one of them being an unprecedented contest format that reflected the anything-goes, everybody-at-once style of riding the Looney boys were notorious for. There would be two divisions: two-person and four-person. Participants would judge their peers.
And so it was. With no more than a handshake with the park staff, a trip to the local hardware and thrift stores for supplies, and a poster drawn up by Ryan, the High Noon Duel came to be. Attendance in 2014 consisted primarily of Looney Bin associates, including Brandon Cocard and Taylor Carlton who came from the shores of Lake Tahoe to take the win in the two-man division, and Alex Burton who, just in from Oregon, showed up at the top of Duel course hootin’ and hollerin’ as the clock struck noon. “Synchronized snowboarding” was the concept, but that implies something less reckless than what transpired.
Three years have passed since that first harebrained happening in 2014, and with an amount of forethought that hasn’t been put into the event in years past, the 2017 High Noon Duel was the most put-together yet, which reflected in the turnout. The field of competitors was large and diverse, ranging well outside Looney Bin cronies. Ben and Ryan, the Duel's proprietors, worked with Winter Park to build a course unique to the event in a visible location at the base of the mountain.
Typically, the first three jumps in Winter Park's Dark Territory have served as the venue for the Duel, with additional features added—the hula hoop and horse have always been staple incorporations to the setup. The new setup offered two separate tracks which snaked across one another then merged ahead of a spine, a jump complete with the requisite hula hoop, and a small slalom course. Competitors flipped and spun above their teammate(s) slithering below, before meeting halfway down the course to take on the remainder of the features, side-by-side. At the bottom, competitors were greeted with cheers from a crowd of spectators and hot dogs courtesy of Vans' Shawn Gruenhagen and Alec Chuvarsky.
As is the case with most anything that happens in Grand County, the Duel commences at a bar, and with ample time between the event’s end and the awards’ beginning, an eager, sunburnt crowd had tossed plenty back before Ryan and Ben showed up in a flatbed, calculated winners in the parking lot, and announced the results listed below with the help of Ben’s mostly coherent buddy.
This High Noon Duel was the most well-executed to date, but its edges are rough enough that no amount of polishing can shape what Ben and Ryan have developed into a traditional contest. The two have created a competition format that fosters fun above all else by putting a loose framework around the type of snowboarding they first unleashed on Winter Park 15-or-so years ago. The Grand County bad boys are fixin’ to keep this thing goin’, so hitch a ride, hop a train, or steal a horse; just make sure you’re in Winter Park by noon next time the Duel kicks off.
The Duel commenced at 2:30, leaving plenty of time to lap Winter Park before awards.
1. Kooks on the Loose — Mike Branson, Max Williams, Adam Redling, Mike Miller
2. One in the Pink, Three in the Stink — AJ Wix, Brandon Depree, Sam Kapilin, Josh Bowles
3. Los Gatos Banditos — Dylan Monroe, Nick Rogers, Trent Spyrka, Aaron Anderson
1. Snow Provides — Max Williams, Adam Redling
2. Old Man Cupid — Indi Stewart, Mike Miller
3. Mythical Creatures—Eric Frazier, Taylor Boyd
Best Meth Heads (awarded for nicest method): Tyler Macleod and Tyler Harper
Lady Standout: Lindsey Shea
Shithead: Indi Stewart
Shiteater: Edlyn Ferreiro