Kass, Byrnes Big Winners At Okemo

Nothing beats a great day of snowboarding. Especially if at the end of it someone hands you a check worth a lot of money. Danny Kass walked away from the USSA Grand Prix at Okemo, a mountain he was once banned from, with a check for $10,000 and a shit-eating grin. Good old snowboarding pays off again. But before we find out how this wily 17-year-old came to this position, let’s recap.

Yesterday’s halfpipe pre-qualifiers were fairly intense. All the riders were doing everything they could to make it into the final fifteen. The super pipe was newly cut, but started getting strange as the sun climbed higher. Soon, one wall was baking and melting under the ultraviolet rays of noontime sunshine, growing slightly over-verted, while the other wall stood with it’s back to the sun, remaining icy and hard all day. Riders were forced to deal with changes in conditions within the space of a couple of seconds as they traversed the flatbottom and hit the opposite wall. Most of those pre-qualifying seemed to be playing it on the safe side, though, owing to the awkward conditions of the day. Magnus Sterner, from Sweden, put together a couple of brilliant and solid runs, going super big and landing his bottom of the run spinners so smoothly that you almost couldn’t tell when he landed.

Today was a different story. The weather was a gray and brisk contrast to yesterday’s sunny mildness. The pipe was in good shape, though, and the women riders started the action off with quickness. The women looked more comfortable and amped in today’s superpipe than they did in yesterday’s variable-conditions beast. Notably, Kim Stacey, Gretchen Bleiler and Tricia Byrnes were going all out, and when the dust settled it was Tricia who was bringing home the number one statue.

When it came time for the men’s second and final run, the big question was whether it would be Ross Powers or Danny Kass who would be wearing the championship belt. Danny had been on top of it for the preceding days and everyone knew the Vernon, New Jersey native and one time Okemo local had what it takes to win. But he was up against a stiff field of seasoned pros, most with some big time finished to their names, including Shaun White, Tommy Czechin, Luke Wynen and Adam Petraska. Magnus again lit it up and added another healthy dosage of FIS points to his already hefty 900 coming into the contest, placing in third. Powers dropped in for run two, and was looking good at the top. I don’t know what happened exactly I was taking photos and I got a good shot of Ross, but when I turned around to see the rest of his run, he was on the ground. I never really found out what happened. Sorry.

All I know is that Danny’s second run was epic. The kid is probably a phenom. If I weren’t a jackass, I would have taken some notes and could tell you what his run was comprised of, but I am one, so you’re going to have to watch the broadcast on NBC Sports. You’ll see why he won. What would you do with $10,000?