Riders representing 27 snowboard companies pulled into the Northstar at Tahoe parking lot on Monday, March 18, ready to fight it out gladiator-style for a place in eternity and a free trip to Supercross courtesy of Red Bull. A superpipe, a triple line, a cross-over jump, on and off-hill rail gardens: riders had three days to prove themselves to the populace on these Gunnarson-built obstacles. No pressure. If you rip, people notice.
The event had a strict dress code. Each team wore their own style of "uniform" so they'd be identifiable to the rest of the competitors. Rome rocked denim. The Nitro team spelled out "HELL YEAH" on the backs of white painter suits. K2 was representing Brooklyn. But heads turned when the CAPiTA kids showed up dressed to the hilt in three-piece suits. A self-conscious mockery of corporate snowboarding? Who knows. But the crew looked wicked handsome in their button-ups and ties.
Shredders tapped straight into the action on the first night with a genuine staircase session in the Northstar village. CAPiTA pulled their van up to the bricks and out came rail guns TJ Schneider and Seth Huot (the team's real secret weapon may have been a funnel with a tube attached to it, though). Sims' Ricky Gatterdam threw down, as did Seth Neefus and Jesse House. But it was hands down Huot's nasty backside lip to pretzel out that won best trick.
Crossover jump standouts from the next day had to be Rome and Tahoe-based Trilogy Arts. Transitions on this thing were quick: if you weren't on it, you got a grill full corn snow. The Rome guys stepped it up before most people made it out of bed with a tandem triple attack: one rider launching each side of the crossover and the third hitting the rail running down the center. Trilogy Arts defended their home turf with tandem triples, too, and smooth inverted spins by teamrider Ryan Wichert. Josh Feliciano landed on his face and got hauled off in a sled. He was seen later chilling on the deck with a fat lip and a shiner.
Later that evening, the superpipe. We were missing two sets of high-powered lamps and a snowstorm was threatening, but that didn't stop kids from wailing and whirling in the milky half-dusk of a barely lit-up tube. Forgotten speaker wires were quickly recovered and soon beats from DJ Episode drowned out the whine rock of the local FM station. New Hampshire shredneck Pat Moore went damn huge, as did Tyler Lepore. And Euros like Nicolas Mueller and Gian Simmen put some English on corked spins and "big air." Mueller was flying around in a bright orange coat, which kept getting him mistaken for TransWorld's Chris Coyle (who was also wearing orange). Live the dream, Coyle.
The final day entailed a triple jump session dominated by the likes of Mueller and his Burton teammate Colin Langlois, as well as the working through of psyche-breaking hangovers for several magazine staff and riders. (Side note: Janna Meyen is a bad influence.) By awards time people were ready to rest sore muscles and tired bones. Elbow-deep in pizza and beer, riders voted for their peers on the categories below. And as it turns out, the sharp dressed CAPiTA team was up on stage so much that the event felt like a senior prom from 1985. In a tan suit and a bow tie, little Tyler Lepore accepted his prize for Best Overall Rider (a free trip to Hawaii for two!) and said shyly into the mic, "Thanks, you guys, I'll see you on the hill." The crew took over the trophy from last year's champion Option, and everyone had a good pull off the trophy's silver cup before heading home from a bitchen week spent in the sun-drenched Tahoe of springtime.
Best "team uniform": CAPiTA
Stair(case) master: Seth Huot
Best staircase trick: Seth Huot, backside lipslide, pretzel out.
Gunny's crossover jump: Rome team.
Night pipe: Gian Simmen
Best pipe trick: Gian Simmen, McTwist off the box.
Most in need of a liver transplant: Janna Meyen
Triple jump: Nicollas Mueller
Wrecked award: Josh Feliciano
Afterbang award: Ryan Lougee
Best overall team: CAPiTA
Best overall rider: Tyler Lepore
Keep an eye out for exclusive footage from the Team Challenge in Mack Dawg's new video Gameshow and on Fox Sports Net's 54321.