As four days of snowboard competition wound to a close, Mt. Hood Meadows razed the spring slush cornfields to set up a 70-foot, table top, big-air behemoth. To the delight of fans basking with brews in the sun, a mellow session of finalists from Vegetate 2002 events lit it up in a spirited exhibition “For the love,” as well as Mack Dawg Productions and the assembled media.
Most of the invited A-list pros were arriving later for private mid-week filming. But that didn’t dampen the day, as sun rained down, music pumped, beer flowed, and Northwesterners were treated to a big air bonanza. Though the mountain closes next weekend, the region’s consistent snowfall dropped a thick deposit of over 150 inches with conditions just now starting to turn spring like. Vegetate brought out competitors as far away as Japan (Hara Yuji and Norifumi Tsuyusaki from Nakano) and Alaska to scrap for local pride, some cash moneys, and a good cause. The giant jump was built to impress by Mack Dawg starmaker Ross Steffey. With a straight-line roll in, long takeoff, and supremely steep landing, all the slushy snow afforded riders the chance to step it up without the usual complaints of “big scare” events. Commented pro Joey McGuire, who just opened Revolution, his own skate/snow shop in Wenatchee, Washington: “Rarely do you see that much snow moved in one place. Meadows is super good for snowboarding all year long with the parks and pipes they build.”
While most riders settled for switch and corkscrew variations of 540s and 720s, in Jamie Lynn-patented, no-gloves style, Chauncey Sorenson stepped it up with a method 900 that got the crowd roar of the day. As he watched instant replay, Sorenson grinned, “I haven’t hit jumps that big for three years, I’m loving it. It’s fast and the speed is deceiving. You can float pretty far out there.”
Other standouts included Nick Franke who announcer Mike Estes claims showed up for Saturday’s slopestyle with three dollars in his pocket and won a thousand?as well as Darrell Mathes, David Scaffidi, and Allistor Schultz, representing Bachelor locs. Meadows Free Ride Team Member Juanita Platz, coming off a stellar contest season, committed to a few drops for her gender. Vegetate is also the only event to mix skiers with snowboarders in all the events, and the two-plankers never failed to impress.
Earlier in the week Portlander Mark Schulz claimed his third Vegetate BoarderCross title over Forest Devore and Brady Gunsch. Schulz won a thousand dollars and never trailed. For the women, Rosemarie Dittfach stepped it up from her third-place in Time Trials to edge out Allison Daniels and Jessica Hall.
Friday featured a bluebird day for Superpipe jamming. With just a time limit of structure, riders were free to take as many runs as they wanted and judged their own winners. The women put Tara Zwink in first followed by Paleena Moyer and Juanita Platz. Men propped out Eugene’s David Scaffidi as the winner with former U.S. Team member Zach Horowitz, and Alaskan Chauncey Sorenson, third.
Saturday some eighty competitors took to the slopestyle course: a pair of tricky rails at the top sandwiched by two giant hips and finishing with a giant table top. As the field was cut to single digits, Tara Zwink again captured the women?s title with Juanita Platz and Macy Price close behind. Nick Franke had a strong showing for the men and beat Trevor Brown from Sun Valley, Idaho and Norifumi Tsuyusaki to the cash money.
For their part, top pros want go for exposure more than dollars. While a part in Mack Dawg’s movie can make a season, says Steffey, “They want to hit big stuff when no one’s around.” After Sunday’s exhibition he was back to work with the snow cats, who had already put in some twenty hours on the table top, to reshape and re-shoot, with Keir Dillon, Shaun White, and Devun Walsh lined up.
Regardless, Vegetate remains a unique event for good reason. Started eight years ago, the revegetation proggram is putting some 15,000 dollars raised through sponsors, contestants 40-dollar entry fees, and a percentage of lift tickets sold during the four-day event toward collecting native seeds, cultivating them in greenhouses, then replanting them around the mountain in the off-season. “It’s one of the ways we do things that have a positive result on an environment we all enjoy,” concludes event mastermind Dave Tragethon, “We figure if a plant is up here, it’s up here for a reason.”