MTV’s Snowed In

Snowed In '99

By Leah Jones and Jamie Briggs

MTV, the music-television station, has about as much to do with music these days as it does with snowboarding. And, if you weren't out snowboarding last February you might actually have tuned in to watch Snowed In and its whopping six hours of “winter programming,” which included WCW wrestling, actors Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, and Ryan Phillippe promoting the male-fantasy cinematic masterpiece Cruel Intentions, and a bunch of idiotic teenage girls acting even more embarrassing than usual as they tried to win a personal serenade from their favorite band, 98 Degrees. Where's the winter in this picture?

The Boardblast segments were all taped the day before the wrestling and celebs showed up. The competition between silly little girls also took place before the audience crowd showed up. The 98 girls had to don snowshoes and run a hill. The first 50 girls to make it to the top had to jump on an inflatable plastic chair, slide to the bottom, where the first ten to get there would compete in a question-and-answer session about the band. Five of these girls had to walk a runway to show off their “distinctive personalities” and fashion styles, with the two finalists from this group playing a game of tug-o-war over an icy pool of water. Winner gets the serenade. Sounds perfect. Except for the fact that inflatable plastic chairs don't slide very well on choppy snow, in fact, they usually pop when they hit a chunk of groomed snow. What do you expect from television writers who don't spend anytime on the snow.

Jamie and I were there to help with the snowboarding events, so we laughed at the girls sprawled in wet jeans and limp plastic for a bit and then headed up to the BoarderCross area for our assignments. Everything, the snowboarding, the commentators, the “live” music performances, even some crowd reactions were taped separately and then edited together to create the show you saw on television. As Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray and Selema “Sal” Masekela were getting their wardrobe on, riders took practice runs through the BoarderCross course.

Since there were only a dozen or so riders in the events, everything was pretty casual. Jamie and I were spotters for the camera guys. I'd radio down to Jamie which rider was out in front at the start gate and she would radio who was in front at mid course. She was stationed on a scaffolding camera platform next to a stepped-up gap jump that angled toward the right. The gap was pretty sketchy; if you speed checked too much you'd land into the step up. If you didn't check enough, you'd fly over the gap and skid out into a tree.

The men's final turned out to be Shaun Palmer, Terry Plum, Russell Winfield, Dave Dowd, and Bertrand Denervaud. Palmer won, by a long shot, but the action took place at the scaffolding in front of Jamie's station. Russell Winfield, competing in his first BoarderCross” (wearing jeans and a beanie no less), bumped Terry pretty hard, who went sliding out of control into the metal railings. Russell popped right up, but it took a pretty perturbed Terry a while to recover. Palmer ended up taking the 4,000-dollar first-place prize, with Dave Dowd winning 2,000 dollars for second, and Bertrand Denervaud getting 1,000 dollars for third. During the women's heats Janell Janowitz fell prey to the step-up, landed in the tree, and ripped out the butt of her pants. Marguerite Cossentini barely edged out Nillard Pilavakis and Tina Dixon took third. The ladies got the same amount of prize money as the men. At least MTV got that rright.

The high-air competition was really more of a triple-air best-trick contest. Sal and Mark had been taping their talking portions all day, with a crowd of kids behind them who would yell and clap on cue. By the time the actual high air started the light was beginning to disappear and the camera men were afraid that when the show was edited together the viewers would be able to tell everything wasn't happening live. Each rider only got three jumps, best jump counted.

The guy pros judged the girls and the girl pros judged the guys from a TV monitor situated at Mark and Sal's podium. Tina Basich reigned supreme with a backside 720. Tara Dakides came in second and Jessica Dalpiaz third. J.P. Walker won the men's division hands-down with a frontside corkscrew 540. Shaun White came in second, and Jason Borgstede and Gian Simmen tied for third. The tie-breaking jump-off was scrapped because of the lighting dilemna, so Shaun graciously agreed to split his winnings allowing he, Jason, and Gian to each get 1,000 bucks.

Since all the snow events were over, the thought of watching Say What Karaokee live was even more painful than watching it on TV (hey, you can at least change the channel or press mute on the TV), so Jamie and I decided to go home.

If you missed the actual show, want more Snowed In from Snow Summit, or need the celebrity breakdown check out at our Web site.