After landing in Newark International Airport, Kevin English and I drove that beautiful stretch of highway known as The Turnpike. The trees lining the highway were visually enhanced with a wide assortment of unhidden treasures ranging from hubcaps and garbage to abandoned mattresses and refrigerators. This backdrop set the scene for a post-apocalyptic NASCAR race to Mountain Creek, in which SUV Dale Earnhardts passed our rental Mini Van like it was standing still. As elevation and blood pressure rose, we left the Dirty part of Dirty Jersey safely behind us for the sanctity of the mountains.
Pulling into Mountain Creek’s parking lot, the peaceful warm glow of the trail lights was shattered by the wail of the snow guns. It was dumping man made pow, adding snow guns to the list of things that might shoot us in Jersey… which they did. Getting shot in the face more times than 50 Cent, we toured the mountain… and it was awesome. Mountain Creek is probably a lot bigger than you think, and has more rails than Amtrak. Those skilled enough to ollie from rail to rail could possibly go top to bottom avoiding snow altogether. The park crew takes pride in their work and it shows.
The day of the event, the TransAm cap of 100 riders apparently had a different exchange rate in Jersey. After the registration table was mobbed like Reginald Denny in an LA Riot, all heck busted loose. When the dust settled 183 competitors had signed up, half my hair had fallen out and all of my pens were gone. Nobody in Jersey takes no for an answer and my personal safety is worth more to me than a rider cap.
Up on the hill the park crew was buffing out quite a spectacle. I knew Mountain Creek was going to build a killer Mini Slope Style"¢ course, and they proved me right. Starting off with your choice of volcano jump or tree trunk wall ride/bonk the course went into a rail buffet offering multiple down rails or an up-slanting funbox which gapped out over a stuffed unicorn. The final feature was a horizontal spine topped with an angled fun-box approachable from all directions. The course was the perfect size for riders to hike and actually handled the large numbers quite well.
The start of the two-hour Traffic Jam"¢, however, was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed as 183 riders simultaneously dropped in. After what looked like an avalanche of leg-bags and Grenade logos, a hiking/riding rhythm was established and the shredding was all-time. No injuries were sustained in the chaos and the large group of spectators was treated to non-stop action for 2 hours.
The judging panel consisted of Local Legends Juice, Matt Bates and pro shred turned real estate mogul: Justin Tracy. This crew came prepared to deal with the crowd, running whistles and a mega-phone as they handed out the 40 T-shirt Bibs advancing the chosen riders into the finals.
The finals came out of the gates guns a blazing, as the 40 top girls and guys rode the Mini Slope Style"¢ course like they were bred to shred. Halfway through the final jam, an ill-fated attempt to cook up a back-lip became a tragic dish of broken collarbone. That recipe never calls for hooking your tail… With the action back underway, the Non-Inverted Arial release forms came into play as a few riders indemnified themselves the protection of a disqualification. Action was again brought to screeching halt as Katie Cappett took a hipper that would have blown up a senior citizen, breaking her pelvis bone. Ouch. It seemed as if it was more dangerous for the riders to not be over crowded… I guess it all depends on what you’re used to.
Even with her injury, Katie still won a decisive victory for her performance in the Jam. On the Guys side it was Alan Strack taking home both the Judges award for first place and the riders vote for Best Overall Nutty Extreme Rider. Riders took home custom packs from Dakine, Oakley Crowbars and custom Blades, a Ride DH board, High Cascade Snowboard Camp Byproducts"¢ and giift cards for cyber shopping on easternboarder.com.
The event was totally crazy and totally awesome.
Top Three Guys
1. Alan Strack
2. Scott Mornney
3. Cody Bush
Top Three Girls
1. Katie Cappett
2. Libby Ireland
3. Tara Collins
Rider’s Choice Boner Award (Best Overall Nutty Extreme Rider)Alan Strack
See you next weekend at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire for stop number 4 of the TransAm Series.