No wind, a perfect jump, a packed house, and don’t forget nakedness. All the makings for an intense big air competition. Tonight (January 6), at the Chevy Truck U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix, all these elements were in full effect, along with some of the best snowboard jumpers in the world.
From 6:00 p.m. on, the energy of the scene was pulsing through the massive crowd, which seemed to be Breckenridge’s entire population. Though good jumps were rewarded with cheers, the eruption from the spectators was obviously amped up for Colorado heroes Chad Otterstrom and Todd Richards in the men’s category.
A hard fought victory was awarded to Ben Hinkley who executed a Rippey flip (backflip 360) his first run and his notorious lawn dart (a.k.a. “suicide flip”). Otterstrom accompanied Hinkely on the podium taking second with Richards in third.”The jump was great, lots of fun,” Hinkley says. “It was a little softer than I thought it was going to be. And the crowd was great.”
Each rider was awarded the best of their two scores and Hinkley says the Rippey definitely won it for him. Why did he chose that jump? “I’ve done so many contests and I’ve learned to do the trick I thought in my head and not change it.”
As if the event wasn’t hyped up enough, a brave soul bared all, streaking across the base area and diving into the crowd over the Navy banner just after Erik Leines’ run. Comedy.
The women’s competition was also tough, but the pint-sized powerhouse Dresden Howell took the victory for stomping her smooth backside 360 with a grab. “I love that jump, I think it’s the best jump I’ve ever hit,” she said. “My first run won it for me because I landed.”
Second place was awarded to Juanita Platz and Jaime Macleod took third.
About the level of competition in women’s big air? “It’s starting to step up now so it’s really cool,” Howell says. “We’re seeing fives and they’re really smooth. Juanita’s back flip was super smooth, too. I’m stoked because they push us now.”
Stay tuned for the Grand Prix halfpipe finals tomorrow.