The 2005 Winter Gravity Games

Adding “Games” to event titles makes them sound very official.

By Jennifer Sherowski

If a snowboarder so desired, they could conceivably attend a contest every single weekend of the winter. Hell, they could even make it to two with the right planning. Seriously, the season schedule is so crammed with hoopla-from open competitions and invite-only jams to company photo shoots and goddamn trade shows-that riders are hard-pressed to find time to just strap on a snowboard and ride.

However, as a pro, snowboarding is your job, so when you get invited to an event like the Gravity Games, where organizers’ primary goal for the weekend is making a TV show to air on OLN (Outdoor Life Network), well, I guess you better go. TV time looks good to sponsors-and prize money looks even better in your wallet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that there’re reasons beyond business for riders to attend events-it’s just that on numerous occasions throughout the Gravity Games weekend, I found myself wondering what exactly the event was for. There was nothing groundbreakingly unique about it-a ski and snowboard competition with normal features (halfpipe, slopestyle, et cetera) and all the usual parties and promotions. It wasn’t really billed as a spectator event like the X-Games, either-so the Copper Mountain, Colorado venue really felt sort of empty. As I bore witness to Risto Mattila doing gigantic corkscrew spins nearly double overhead in the halfpipe, I peeked behind me and there was no one else watching. Same with the slopestyle course-a ghost town. Sure, there were a few happenings that the crowds did come out for, like the nighttime rail jam in Frisco and The Walkmen playing at the base of Copper. But for the most part, things were very quiet, which was nice-but a little eerie.

Anyhow, as could be expected at Copper Mountain-where there’s always plenty of snow sculpted into plenty of good obstacles-some real good action did go down. There were two-hour-long final jams for halfpipe and slopestyle that, because of camera holds, were only about 60-percent snowboarding (thus, not real nail-biters, but what can ya do?). Chad Otterstrom visibly and obviously dominated an entire long day of competition by winning both the slopestyle and the rail jam later that evening. First, he smoothly switch-spun his way through the kicker line and then executed complex combinations on the jibs at the bottom. That evening, he did more runs than anyone on the rail setup-a straight rail and an up-flat-down kinked number with a scaffolding ramp run-in set up in downtown Frisco. He Cab 180ed to 180 out, he frontside lipped to 270 out, he front boarded-he pretty much did it all.

Let’s see, other slopestyle players were Wyatt Caldwell, who was smooth as hell through the jump line and then tore apart the jibs with 180 to back lips and whatnot; and Antti Autti, definitely can’t forget him-a 720, a 900, an inverted Cab seven, a Cab nine, a Smith to 270 off … wow. As for the women’s slopestyle, Janna Meyen won. Again-nothing out of the ordinary here. However, the rail jam did see Leanne Pelosi attempt a boardslide through a pretty serious kink (a lot of guys weren’t even attacking that beast). She did get pitched, of course, but not without earning the respect of everyone in attendance.

The deal with the men’s Superpipe was rookie action. The Finnish threat of Risto Mattila, Antti Autti, and Mikka Hast was in full effect. Antti was cranking precision back-to-back 1080s, and Risto had giant 1080s into frontside nines. Danny Davis exploded onto this scene with giant airs and 1080s, too. And of course, relative unknown Crispin Lipscomb out of Canada went nuts, throwing not only multiple nines and a frontside 1080, but a backside 1080, too. Gretchen Bleiler stomped a pretty nasty frontside 900-her first landed in competition, apparently. That, of course, was combined with a crippler and back-to-back 540s (bacckside first, then frontside) in a run that touched her down a mellow eight points ahead of second place. Yeah, that was that.

By weekend’s close, I have to admit, I was still sort of asking myself-with all the events happening all over the world, why go to this one? It was running head to head with a FIS World Cup in Lake Placid, New York-and with the new IOC rule requiring riders to have a top 25 World Cup placing to be eligible for the Olympics, you can bet that that’s where Shaun White and the like were. So what made the Gravity Games unique, or cool, or whatever? The truth is, I don’t know. But so what? Maybe I’m just thinking about things a little too hard. People showed up, went snowboarding, made money, and had fun (as far as I could tell). So I guess I’ll shut up now.

Results

Men’s Halfpipe

1. Crispin Lipscomb

2. Danny Davis

3. Risto Mattila

4. Keir Dillon

5. JJ Thomas

Women’s Halfpipe

1. Gretchen Bleiler

2. Hannah Teter

3. Elena Hight

4. Kelly Clark

5. Junko Asazuma

Men’s Slopestyle

1. Chad Otterstrom

2. Antti Autti

3. Wyatt Caldwell

4. Andreas Wiig

5. Risto Mattila

Women’s Slopestyle

1. Janna Meyen

2. Silvia Mittermueller

3. Izumi Amaike

4. Leanne Pelosi

5. Hannah Teter

Rail Jam

Men: Chad Otterstrom

Women: Leanne Pelosi

Fifteen-minute award: Ivan Marchinko

Thirty-minute award: Chad Otterstrom

Forty-five-minute award: Yale Cousino