Every year around this time the TransWorld SNOW staff starts getting all excited about the Team Challenge. Little Joe can hardly sleep. Evan starts stretching out his wrists for some hard-hitting Web journalism. Annie slathers on sunscreen. Nick gets his trigger finger ready. We know we’re in for some mean BBQs, face tans, and ripping riding of all shape and size. And of course, this year is no different, especially with the 2007′s dynamic team lineup and the all-new Shootout “park-style event Thursday night at the base of Heavenly.

So. Who will be crowned the best team in snowboarding this year? Let’s see, last season Team Flow absolutely destroyed it. Scotty Lago laid waste to rails, tranny, and kickers alike, supported by a crew of ripper Finns including Risto Mattila, Miikka Hast, and, Antti Autti. The Burton team was not to be overlooked, however, with rookies Kevin Pierce, Danny Davis, and Mikkel Bang giving everyone a glimpse into the future of snowboard progression. Previous to that, Academy’s reign of terror was equally fierce. Chad Otterstrom and the boys came in and kicked major ass in the team pride department, as well as executing a flawless on-hill game. And of course, no one can forget Capita’s several year domination of the Team Challenge—dresses, skeleton outfits, suit coats, and tech-trick mastery.

Anyway, it’s 2007, and I’d keep an eye on Flow again—they’re bringing back the big guns to defend their title, and a little birdie told us that Team Manager Andrew Mutty has spent months working on the costumes, too, so can’t wait to see what they bust out uniform-wise. Also, Team Forum is stacked with tranny-ripping, rail-killing talent along the lines of Pat Moore, Jake Blauvelt, and Stevie Bell. Definite contenders. Burton’s back with Pierce, Davis, and Elena Hight. And don’t count out K2, either, with Pelosi, Fox, and maybe even Niemela teaming up to dominate.

The best part about the Team Challenge, However, is that nothing’s a sure bet. Any team could come out of the woodwork and torch everyone else. So stay tuned for day-by-day coverage, and if you’re in the Tahoe area, get your arse to Heavenly Thursday evening to join us for the Shootout!