The Yahoo Big Air went down on a socked-in midwinter’s eve in the heart of the Rocky Mountains’ Breckenridge, Colorado to be exact. The snow was coming down so fast that the kicker, a freshly cut affair with a channel carved down the middle, actually had a powder landing. The storm made for slow conditions and a busy maintenance crew. But it also made for a wicked show under the massive glowing spheres lighting up the competition area.    

It was truly a night for the Colorado heavies. Aspen-kid Ryan Lougee sagged and nodded his way through many a dope backside 180. He definitely won the “big air” award, almost missing the landing transition he was going so huge. But the judges were looking for variety and difficulty, too, so Lougee didn’t make the finals. Matt Peterson of Vail stepped it up as the night went on, smoothing his way through backside 180s, backside 540s, and several other tricks I can’t exactly remember for fifth place. Breckenridge stuntman Brent Meyer spiced things up with cool-looking, quarked-out backside 720s for third place. Fresh off his Grand Prix halfpipe victory earlier that day, Chad Otterstrom, plugged in backside sevens and a sweet Cab five underflip.

But at the end of the chilly, wet evening it was a fellow by the name of Flocco who won it for stomping the most difficult trick of the event: a switch backside nine. Congratulations to him. A handful of ladies did hit the jump, as well. Honorable mention goes out to Jaime MacLeod for stomping a gigantic Cab five, Hana Beaman for backside 360 quarking the channel, and Hannah Teter for her smooth frontside 180 Indys. Sorry we don’t have any action photos for you. It was so damn cold that my camera battery died after snapping my first photo. 

Let me finish by saying this: judges have it tough, you people have no idea. They stand outside for hours in the bitter cold scribbling down scoring and notation that’s inevitably illegible because it’s pretty damn hard to write with mittens on. While the competitors keep warm by defying death and the forces of gravity, the poor judges freeze up like little blocks of impartial ice. And worst of all, instead of enjoying the show like everyone else, these people have to deconstruct every last trick and element of style until they barely make sense anymore; like a word you’ve stared at too long that becomes nothing more than a weird pile of symbols on the page. Anyway, cheers to my homies in the judges booth.