North America answers Norway’s Hemsedal hip.
To redefine the limits today, you need to rethink the canvas. It requires constructing triple-extra-large features, and most importantly, assembling a crew of riders willing to bust through the ceiling. Athletes who follow the trends are simply keeping pace. Rewriting the rules is infinitely more difficult, but it’s exactly what happened during a historic spring session at June Mountain, California.
Don’t blink. TransWorld Senior Photographer Andy Wright shot 28,000 frames this year. Mack Dawg Productions blew through 69,000 feet of film. Much of this will drown on the cutting-room floor-miles of “almosts” and “nearly hads.” There will be just enough gems for a 30-minute Mack Dawg epic, and Andy’s work will provide steady contributions throughout this year’s volume of TW SNOW. All the grueling, nonstop, worldwide travel-all the trials and tribulations-hinge on the notion of chasing dream days like the one you see here. “This was our best day of our best year-ever,” states Mike “Mack Dawg” McEntire.
June Mountain’s Josh King wiped his brow and grinned. He and Ross Steffey, along with transition specialist Kurt Heine, had just completed a hip of enormous proportions. A new peak had formed at the top of June Mountain. From the resort parking lot, you couldn’t miss the monstrosity, what with its shockingly long 30-foot transition coupled with another 40 feet for touch down. As awe-inspiring as the massive build was, the amplitude yet to come would prove even more outrageous.
Four indisputable height records were posted: Josh Dirksen’s 33-foot method air and an unfathomable one-footer twenty feet out, Eero Ettala’s 29-foot air-to-fakie, and Heikke Sorsa’s 31-foot frontside (tailgrab). Wille Yli-Luoma pulled a 31-foot method just a couple shy of “Jerksen’s” monster backside. Aaron Biittner and Scotty Arnold, neither of whom are transition specialists, boosted close to twenty. Andy Wright breaks it down: “If they weren’t going twenty feet, I didn’t even pull the camera out.”
Ross Steffey’s brainchild was a direct answer to the massive hip built over the last two years in Hemsedal, Norway. Ross had built many features with Josh King, and the two had a single goal in mind-building a hip that would support the largest airs of all time. For the athletes involved, this was no easy task. The impact of landing was severe, and even a slight miscalculation was potentially bone-shattering. Eero and Heikki were so concerned about their well-being that they debated walking away from it completely. Amazingly, the only casualty sustained was a single sprained ankle.
Rising above the realm of perceived possibilities and redefining a set standard is a difficult thing to do. When barriers are broken, it’s usually by wide-eyed and hungry upstarts: Every new generation of riders emerges with a clean slate and open minds, and without the scar tissue, metal pins and screws, or fear that come with experience. But when the mass is critical, like the features at Mack Dawg’s June Mountain session were, it’s muscle memory and precision control that carry you higher. Veterans like Josh Dirksen and Wille Yli-Luoma come into their own, and the bar is raised forever … higher.
“This was the best day of our best year-ever!”-Mack Dawg
“If they weren’t going over twenty feet, I didn’t even pull the camera out.”-Andy Wright