Being a pro snowboarder is like a dream sometimes¿some of the most magical and unbelievable things have happened to me doing what I do. The list goes on and on.

Last week the U.S. Snowboard Team spent some quality time in the wonderful world of Europe. It took us almost 50 hours to go from Mammoth to France¿a trip filled with crappy airline food, cancelled flights, and a harrowing experience on the train with our 5,000 pounds of luggage and irate little old German ladies screaming at us to our chagrin. Ah, Europe. Such variety.

Tignes, France is a beautiful valley with huge mountains, beautiful waterfalls, and a resevoir at the base, complete with a dam with a giant painting of a half-naked dude.

And don’t forget the French people. Sometimes very nice and sometimes every bit of the sterotype. French people suck sometimes.

I personally would like to thank the nice French cat driver who tried to run me over in the pipe. I dropped in for my last run just as practice was finishing, and somebody decided that it would be a good idea to close the pipe by driving a cat up the middle and digging a trench so we couldn’t ride it anymore. Only they forgot to tell the riders that if they kept dropping in there was a good chance of getting crushed by a three-ton piece of machinery.

I have only my friends to thank for screaming at me mid-frontside Haakonflip, calling my attention to the metallic behemoth below me, and allowing me to stop mere inches from the hungry tracks. Merci bro…

That aside, the FIS World Cup was killer. They did a great job with the pipe, and the contest went off with only a few delays. There was some impressive riding from the entire U.S. contingent, as well as from people like Takashi Nishida from Japan, and Thomas Johansson and Marcus Jonsson from Sweden. People were throwing back-to-back 7′s, Mctwists, backside 540′s, Haakonflips, and your standard assortment of straight airs.

Tommy Czeschin and I stepped it up in the finals with frontside 900 flips. It ended up being a battle between Tommy and I for first and second place. Tommy had me on the first run, but I just couldn’t let the kid walk away with it. I landed my first ever 900 flip in a contest.

Tommy tried to match with a 900 flip of his own but just barely washed out in the flatbottom, giving me the edge and my first win since I broke my ankle last year.

If you have never won a World Cup before I suggest you try it. I can’t explain the happiness it brings. I hope I can do it again sometime real soon.

Tricia Byrnes walked away with a win of her own¿busting out in her usual fashion. Kim Stacey came through with a fourth place, and I think I saw her go bigger than most of the boys.

The U.S. pretty much ruled it, as it should be. Ricky Bower ended up fourth as well, with Seth Wescott in fifth, and 55 other international competitors rounded out the rest of the placings.

On another note, regular ruler Ross Powers took home a solid second behind Daniel Franck in Laax at the ISF opener. He told me the pipe there was good, but one of the iciest things he has ever ridden. The kid lives in Stratton, so I think he knows his ice. It’s great to see the U.S. still on top in the only winter sport that Americans invented. I hope we can keep it that way.

The dream doesn’t stop¿and there is no rest for the weary. Right now I am in Breckenridge, Colorado, at the Vans Triple Crown. I just love going to Europe for one week¿just about the time you get over the jet lag, you have to jump back on the plane and start your battle for sleep all over again. Everyone that was in Europe is still a little groggy, but coming back to life.

The pipe here is the biggest one I have ever seen for a contest, and definitely a challenge to ride. The walls are at least fourteen feet, with seventeen foot transitions. It will take some getting used to¿flipping and spinning are scary as hell, and you have to go super fast to get out. Viva progression.

So far I’ve seen very few people going off¿but Jussi Oksanen truly rips. Tomorrow is the second day of practice and I’m sure everyone will get over their jitters.

The boardercross is pretty fun as well. It has a nice rhythm, some technical woops, and a couple good kickers. Wax will be very important as there isn’t really a lot of pitch.

And finally, the big air practice started today. The kicker looks super fun¿a gigantic cheese wedge that will boot you out into the Colorado sky. The landing looks a little short for such a big jump, but only time will tell.

That’s about it from the land of the big pipe. I’ll check in again next week from Mammoth at the Grand Prix, as the dream continues.