The Hippies Were Happy At the 1998 Vegetate

The unthinkable occurred on Mt. Hood this spring: it was sunny for four consecutive days during which Mt. Hood Meadows pulled off a well-run, action-packed snowboarding event. Vegetate, a benefit for native wildflowers, was a good excuse to get everyone up on the glacier for some great riding, intense competition, and judge-booth carnage, all for a good cause-the environment.

The Vegetate pipe was in great shape, thanks to Tim Windell and his crew. Tomi Toiminen must have liked it-the Finnish veteran who won the pipe event pulled consistent runs, exhibiting his skills with a variety of tricks that enabled him to edge out Patrick Butsch by a quarter point.

“Tomi wasn’t pulling the ten-foot Haakon flips you see some of the other guys doing, but then again, you didn’t see him fall either. And all his runs were smooth and consistent,” said Head Judge Tim Windell.

In the women’s event, the top-three riders were separated by only three-quarters of a point. First place went to Tara Zwink of Truckee, California, who stomped a frontside 540 right in front of the judges to finish her run and seal the victory.The slopestyle event the following day was the most tightly judged event of the weekend. The course included huge gaps, tabletops, and the quarterpipe of doom. One competitor carried so much speed on the QP that he flew completely off course and annihilated the entire judging panel.

“That guy was charging the quarterpipe with so much speed, he was either gonna go twenty feet up, or ten feet out,” said one photographer who witnessed the whole fiasco. “Considering how out of control the guy looked, and the fear of God you could see in his eyes, I got the hell out of the way.” Assistant Judge John Spanos wasn’t quite so lucky and got a free ride to the medical clinic for a slew of stitches.

Local-boy Josh King had some of the most impressive runs of the day, but an untimely fall kept him in third place. Forest De Vore from Eugene, Oregon locked down first by hitting both channel gaps (the hardest ones on the course)-a backside 180 on the first, and on the second a frontside 540. Corey Rudishauser of Bend, Oregon won the women’s event.

On Saturday, the boardercross race ended minutes before a lightning storm struck Mt. Hood. Portland’s Mark Schulz won and took home a cool 1,500 dollars. Mark saved the best for last as he concluded his winning run with a solid 50-foot backside 360 at the finish-line jump. The crowd went crazy.

On Sunday, heroes were made as people pulled out the stops for the showcase event-the big air. Some landed their way to the podium on the sunny, beer-soaked porch of the lodge, while others miscalculated and did damage to themselves-such is the big air. It all came down to the last few guys who were neck and neck after their first runs. Jessie Wright Burtner of Bellingham, Washington pulled clean a Cab nine tailgrab (the trick that so often wins big-air events) and rode away clean. Based on the reaction of the crowd, it was obvious that defending champ Jason Chattfield would have to be content with second.

Janet Matthews won the women’s division with a long, clean backflip Indy that earned her a score of 87 points. But the biggest air that day-of all the men and women-was thrown by Melissa Nicholson, who unfortunately didn’t land on the podium. She didn’t land, period. “She just pointed it and never even thought about speed checking,” said Assistant Judge Josh Linn. “When she realized she was two stories above the landing and accidentally doing a late 360, she just did the best she could to save herself.”

Melissa wasn’t able to get in control and landed on her back, sliding headfirst for close to 50 feet. Melissa broke her back. On a happier note, Corey Rudishauser of Bend, Oregon was awarded the Mountain All-Star winner by placing well in all the weekend’s events.

Dave Riley, VP and General Manager of Mt. Hood Meadows created Vegetate as a way to promote awareness and speed up the plant-life rrestoration process in areas disturbed by construction and resort use: “The 5,000 dollars raised will be used to collect seeds, and grow and transplant wildflowers that preserve the biodiversity of the area. It is beneficial from a plant and wildlife point of view, which extends down to water quality and thereby fish life. It has turned into a lot bigger deal than when we started this.”

Some of the best snowboarding talent in the world comes from the Northwest.With a great mix of newcomers and a score of legends milling around, how could a contest here not go off? They even raised some money for the hippies so they can keep hugging trees.