The evening of January 5 saw all forms of precipitation puke forth from the Northwest sky–foggy rain, sleet, snow, and frozen ice balls lobbed by hilarious comedians in the crowd. Competitors and spectators alike had to be on their toes. And what was originally scheduled to be an hour practice followed by an hour-long jam-format competition became a few warm-up runs and 45-minute kicker session.
Dresden Howell was an early favorite for the women after throwing a flawless, grabbed frontside three and touching down somewhere near the bottom of the landing. Hanna Beaman, a young Mammoth ripper who’s definitely been upping the level of women?s snowboarding lately, tried several corked backside 540s but was unable to stick any landings. She ended up in third place, showing the judges were clearly looking for clean transitions over trick difficulty. Second-place finisher Jamie MacLeod commandeered the microphone during the awards to voice her opinion on the matter: “I just want everyone to know that Hanna should have won this,” and after a sharp glance from the winner (Howell), “Well, maybe not won it, but at least done way better.” Kim Bohnsack cased the lip trying a backside three and was taken away by ski patrol amidst rumors of a knee injury. We hope she’s okay.
The already fierce men’s competition was turned up a notch by the presence of filmers from major production companies. Local Josh Dirksen, who couldn’t turn down the chance to hit a Pat Melondowski-made kicker in his back yard, impressed the cameras by spinning 900s all night. The ever spastic Eddie Wall reeled it in enough to pull some mean inverted sevens. But it was the last jump of the night for two riders that really blew doors. Travis Rice unleashed a double back flip on the population of central Oregon–perfectly executed, no need for landing gear. Kyle Clancy let rip a one-foot air, and I don’t mean one foot of the ground. It was a huge boneless, thirty feet in the air and dripping with style.
The crowd made its way to the finish area for the awards, everyone grateful to get home and the “f” out of their soggy snowboard clothes. A renewed eruption of snowballs began pelting those standing near the podium, but it was swiftly stamped out by the Grenade patrol. Not before I got hit in the head with an ice ball, though. Oh well.