Caught Up: US Open

*This is a fictional interview created by Hondo. Don’t worry, US Open isn’t a real person it’s just a kick ass event that’s taking place 3/4-3/10. So read this interview and make sure you get to Stratton this weekend for the finals. It’s guaranteed to be a good one.

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One of the longest, most prolific riders in the game, US Open is back. And this year he's ready to show the young bucks why he's been on top for the past 30 years, and why he's not going anywhere.

So you've been in the game for a long, long time. How long has it really been though?

Ah shit, man, I've been in this mix since 1982. That's 30 goddamn years of this shit. And let me tell you, I've seen some changes...

Oh yeah? Like what?           

Well, to begin with, when I started we didn't have halfpipes, we didn't have slopestyle, big air, rail jams, none of that shit. All we did was set up some gates and point it. The kids these days might not think that's "cool," but when you're screaming down a mountain on a piece of wood with your feet barely attached, it's pretty f--king scary. We were also at a tiny little hill in Vermont called Suicide Six.

The Cage. Photo Nick Hamilton

The Cage. Photo Nick Hamilton

Really? You weren't at Stratton? I thought that's always been your home mountain.

No, man, no. Stratton's been my home since 1985. But before that I would shred this place called Snow Valley. That place was super mellow, man. Well, maybe too mellow. There were no lifts, so you had to hike to the good stuff...



So you were into the race thing for a while, when did you make the transition to becoming a halfpipe rider? When did you leave the spandex at home?

Hey man, watch it. First of all, we never messed with spandex! But, to answer your question, I started riding pipe in 1988. And I stopped racing forever in 1989. Don't get me wrong, I loved racing my buds, but boosting out of the pipe was just so much more fun. Back then pipes were hand dug. If you were to tell any of us back then what the halfpipes or jumps or anything would look like now, we would have laughed in your face. It's pretty crazy to see the progression over the past 30 years...

You've made some pretty big changes during your career. What events have been your favorites?

Well, I'll always have a spot in my heart from the downhill and the Super G. But I guess they aren't my favorites. The first rail jams were pretty sick. Seeing Travis Rice win some rail jams is a pretty big trip. Also I loved Big Air. But in all honesty, I'm pretty hyped on what we have going now. I'm content.

Your career has been longer than almost anyone. What are some of the craziest things that you've seen?

Well, one of the craziest years I've ever had was in 1998. That was the year it was so damn misty that you couldn't see from the top of the pipe to the bottom. It was insane. I believe it was complete underdog Rob Kingwell who won that year. His win was a complete shock to everyone.  Speaking of shocks, remember Jimi Scott? Ha! The Cage was also wild. That’s some shit that you will probably only believe the story if you actually saw it. It was crazy…

Have you been a part of any crazy parties or antics during your career?

I used to be known for my wild and crazy parties, but things have for sure toned down over the years. I'm older now. But holy shit, when I was young, I would rage. But those stories are better lived than told...

Who are some of your favorite riders from the past, and who are the up-and-comers that you're most down for now?

Well, Craig Kelly will always be my favorite. He really lit it up during the beginning. Same thing with Terje and Michalchuk, I loved watching those guys ride. Those dudes ripped. I also love Danny Kass, Todd Richards; man, those guys could--and I bet still can--boost. Nicola Thost could shed better than most women. I bet if she were to enter today, she wouldn't fair too poorly either. Same thing can be said for Barrett Christy and Victoria Jealouse.


As for the people who I'm excited to watch now? Well, damn, that's a huge list. Let's see. For pipe I love watching Kazu. He's amazing. I also like watching Shaun White, if he shows up. Louie Vito has four double corks, and Ipod has a giant bag of tricks too. Danny Davis has amazing style, and so does Luke Mitrani.

Kazu Victory Lap 2011 US Open. Photo Aaron Blatt

Kazu Victory Lap 2011 US Open. Photo Aaron Blatt

When it comes to slope, it really is anyone's game. Last year we got to see Mikkel Bang and his awesome style take the W. I always like it when it's an underdog. This year I bet we could see a win from Gjermund Braaten, Seb Toots, Sage Kotsenburg, Torstein, really anyone, man. I guess we'll just have to wait and see...