The 2005 TransWorld SNOWboarding TransAm Finals at Copper Mountain brought to you by TWS, Ride, Smith, Dakine, Zumiez and High Cascade Snowboard Camp may very well have been the most coveted event to compete in this season. Sure the US Open draws a fairly large field and everyone whose ever drank a Mountain Dew secretly wishes he or she could go for that X-Games gold. Still this year’s TransAm Finals might take the cake for a sheer “desire to be a part of…
Hear me out: Take over 1300 of the best, up-and-coming USASA competitors from around the country and put them at sunny Copper Mountain for a week. Then tell them the Smith Limo and HCSC Marshmallow Jib are coming at the end of the week for a 1 hour Jam Session contest in which the winner takes home: A year sponsorship from Ride, Dakine and Smith, a free trip to High Cascade Snowboard Camp this summer and Zumiez gift certificates. Here’s the clincher: next tell these 1300 competitors that there’s only 50 spots to compete… What do you get? 1300 kids trying their hardest to convince you to put them in the event and about 2600 parents doing the same.
Since USASA Nationals has more Soccer Moms than the family section at a World Cup Soccer tournament, choosing TransAm competitors got scary at times. There’s nothing stranger than talking to a 40-year old woman about why her son’s front-boards are better than everyone else’s. I got into one “covers-argument with a dad about letting his son compete, in which the word “snowboard could have been replaced with “baseball and the word TransAm could have been replaced with “All-Star Team and it would have made more sense. One dad actually said to me, “if my son goes up there and does a 720 off that Limo first try can he get in then? To which I confusingly replied, “Only if he can hit a curveball.
At first I thought, “This is crazy, what is snowboarding coming to? But then it hit me: Parents love their children. Their children love snowboarding and there are a lot of parents who are going to try their hardest to make sure their children get to do what they love. It was in this moment of realization that I looked over at a Snowboard Soccer Mom handing out orange wedges to a group of young jibbers in need of a pick me up and smiled. If snowboarding can bring parents closer to their children, than this is a good thing.
In the end the TransAm spots were handed out to the top USASA Nationals slope-style spots from various age categories, winners of this year’s TransAm contests (Breckenridge, Northstar and Bear Mountain) and from a random lottery. With the talented field picked and ready to start practice, a storm rolled in and turned the tanning salon-like weather into a blizzard faster than you can say hole-shot. Considering riders had to gap 10 feet out to a rail perched atop a limousine, the shift in weather wasn’t a welcome one. Regardless, when the bamboo X was removed from the take off to the Smith Limo, the young cast of jibbers spun and pranced across the top of the Limo like it was some kind of outdoor, wintry snowboard ballet. In a testament to how much snowboarding has progressed over the past few seasons, tricks that would have had an X-Games announcer peeing their pants 3 years ago are now commonplace among today’s amateur kids. The 270 on, 270 off was a popular move, as apparently 14-year old kids can do this in their sleep. The most stylish 270’s of the day coming from crowd favorite, 14-year old Jamie Anderson from South Lake Tahoe. This girl is the real deal.
In a scary moment of jibbing surrealism one competitor slipped off the limo, hooked his board under the rail and was stuck hanging upside down off the roof of the limo like an over partied senior hanging out of a sun roof on prom night. Luckily he was helped off completely unharmed. Over at the HCSC Marshmallow jib the action was heating up as competitors fast planted, hand planted, jibbed, jabbed and bonked it. Oohs and Ahhs came from the crowed as Riiley Nickerson from Vermont’s ill-fated hand plant attempt left him with a broken collar bone and when Ross Baker humorously pulled out the zero speed, 3/4 back flip up and over the marshmallow to stomach slide down the landing.
Standouts on the Smith Limo included Burton’s new young gun 11-year old Ben Watts and his bag of smooth well placed tricks, Northstar TransAm winner Robert Dawson’s 270 combos, the craziest edge catch to superman off the end of the Smith Limo I’ve ever seen by NY’s Conner Leech, Dylan Alito’s 50-50 to backside rodeo-like maneuver out and the late entry tricks from Waterville Academy’s Tim Humphreys and Ian Thorely who finished competing in Open Class pipe just in time to catch the last 10 minutes of the event.
The overall rider of the day however was clear to everyone watching. 14-year-old Brennen Swanson from Minnesota clearly stood out from the crowd of competitors during the Jam. Not because his jeans cut off circulation to his feet or because he had a matching one-piece plaid snow suit on… nope, in a throwback tribute to the good old days, Brennan stood out by riding with a style all his own. Sure he did the compulsorily 270 combos, but then he broke into a rhythm the Jam Format was invented for: 50-50 front flip out, 50-50 backie out, squatted boardslide seat-belt grabs, etc. Brennan unleashed the awesome dog on the Smith Limo and took home the top spot with a dizzying array of crowd-pleasing tricks.
Directly following the event the Smith Limo was left open to anyone who wanted to test their luck with vehicular jibbing, and the crowd was treated to a massive product toss/ trivia event. If you were willing to dive and wrestle for neon DaKine bags or happened to know things like what kind of dog Ride pro Shane Flood has, then you went home with a prize. All in all, the entire event was a success. It was easy to forget that riders were being judged, scored, ranked and rated. It seemed more like a bunch of kids hiking a rail, trying new tricks and having fun riding their stand up sleds. Thanks to the support from TransWorld, Smith, Dakine, Ride, Zumiez and High Cascade Snowboard Camp a great week at the 2006 USASA Nationals was capped off with a great event: The 2006 TransWorld TransAm Finals.
1.) Brennen Swanson
2.) Robert Dawson
3.) Ben Watts
1.) Jamie Anderson
2.) Sarah Jann
3.) Alex Berg
Dylan Alito (50-50 “backside rodeo off)