Stratton Saves Winter with the 4th Annual EQX Games

Snowboarding, alternative rock, warm weather, the word extrem, and the sudden realization that Stratton’s halfpipe is an even farther hike with tennis shoes and no snow. What do all these things have in common? They can be used to describe the 4th Annual EQX Games at Stratton, VT on May 27, 2000. Four years of use of the name EQX Games, and the fine people behind the event haven’t been sued by ESPN yet.

Tricia Byrnes repeated her victory, just like the last four years, possibly because the competitive nature of the day has all but vanished since it’s origin and she was one of the only riders there, but also because she was one of the few people who could ride the pipe. In the men’s division, Lane Knack walked away with the victory and $500, not a bad prize for an event no one seemed to care about.

This year’s halfpipe had the illusion of vert; it was actually pretty big. With the especially bad snow year, and the rainy, 80-degree spring Vermont has been having, it’s nothing short of a miracle that there was enough snow to build such a pipe, much less make it bigger than five feet tall. Although it only consisted of about three hits per run, it was still quite impressive, topping about around 10 feet.

However, something about snowboarding at the end of May on the East Coast isn’t that enticing, so a good deal of people decided to skateboard in the provided park rather than snowboard. “It was a novelty,” one such extreme athlete said. “But it wore off pretty quickly.” This made for a pretty rad snake, I mean, skate session, with the likes of Jerry Tucker, Ron Chiodi and Luke Omand, just to name a few.

Even with meager attendance, the contest went off. The women’s jam session consisted of four girls, and all the guys who weren’t over snowboarding yet. I’m not quite sure how the event was judged, or even if there were judges, but somehow, winners were named. Tricia Byrnes won for obvious reasons, years of riding Stratton’s pipe have schooled her well, and behind her was a SMS alum, Maryl Wintersheid. In third was Jenny Venezia, who somewhat resembled Trevor Andrew. The only difference was she didn’t do any Mstwists, but after flattening out a good place to drop in, she did go above the lip a couple times.

The men’s pipe jam was not unlike the women’s, in that all the same people were riding. This year the contest was extra-extreme in that skiers were allowed to ride at the same time. To save a little bit of face for snowboarding, it might not be a good idea for this to continue, as all of the skiers were going approximately twice as big as any of the snowboarders. However, it was only snowboarders who were eligible for the prize money, and Lane Knack was the one who did it best. However, Lane didn’t do any noteworthy tricks, none that he would admit to at least. He was basically rewarded for going consistently above the lip. In second was Leon Erv, and in third was last year’s champion, Ted Rauh.

“I hoped to reclaim my title from last year,” Ted said. “But I’m happy with third.” One of the most interesting things about Ted is he is a twin, and his brother Terry was also riding. The problem with identical twins is that they are ridiculously hard to tell apart when they snowboard, even if they are wearing totally different attire. What this means is that either Ted was doing huge Mctwists to the deck, or consistently landing on the transition. I’m thinking that he was the latter, but both brothers were certainly notable. They even had their own beer-drinking cheerleading squad of John Smallwood and his posse, who shouted, “Rauh power” during each of their runs.

Even with the lackluster enthusiasm towards snowboarding, the EQX Games proved themselves to once again be a good time. Even the likes of Ross Powers made an appearance, although his snowboard did not. That’s the beauty of a multi-sport event such as this one, one of the best pipe riders in the world can get away with not snowboarding, and that, my friend, is a beautiful thing.