Sometimes you have to give a little to get a little. It’s one of those fundamental truths in life, and if you have to ask why, then you’ll probably never know. What’s this have to do with anything? Well, that’s exactly what happened at the 2005 Honda Session in Vail, Colorado. You see, this year’s event did not include a women’s slopestyle-however, not having female competitors in there meant the jumps could be bigger and wider with larger sweet spots in the landing, and that meant that Shaun White was able to seriously make competition history by stomping a series of “all four nines” (backside 900, frontside 900, Cab 900, and switch backside 900-not necessarily in that order) on the perfect kicker run.
“One of my main goals for this year was doing the four different nines in a single run,” says White. “I tried all last year to get it done, but there were no jumps-so when I got to the Vail Session, I had to do it. It was crazy just going at the last hit and stomping. I totally freaked out-it was such an insane feeling.”
Yep, it was the cold, cold evening of January 15 when I believe Shaun White became the first rider ever to pull out the four niners. Now, not only did he manage to accomplish this ridiculous feat on the giant Pat Malendoski-made jumps (ranging in size from 35 to 65 feet and built way up tall to ensure steep landings), but he did it his second run of the night-and he did the very first time he tried. Then-get this-he went back up, did another three 900s, and cranked the last jump up to 1080. Unfortunately, he was so juiced up that he fell into the channel on the rail feature at the bottom of the course. His all-four-nines run scored 97, though, so he was all good.
You might think that those few runs would constitute the proverbial “shutting down” of the course. However, it was pretty amazing to see the other riders step up and give little Shaun a run for his money. Andreas Wiig pulled out a run of all four sevens-one of them being his signature inverted “Wiig flip.” Then he did two nines along with a Wiig flip, as well as settling the rail feature at the end of each run. Rahm Klampert really seemed like he might be able to put together the four nines, too-I think he got three of them, but there still seemed to be one way he couldn’t spin 900 (must be switch backside). He anted up for sure, though. And Chad Otterstrom shredded it, too-floating a giant no-grab backside 180 that looked way, way more fun than trying to crank around a 1080.
Now, addressing the two Rail Jam events (men’s and women’s this time) means once again addressing one Mr. Shaun White, because he won this, too, and for the second year in a row. The win was earned by flying around, taking a different line almost every run, and kinda just doing it all. However, White’s impending victory wasn’t necessarily obvious from the get-go. The hour-and-a-half jam session was split up into fifteen-minute, prize-money-allotting increments. Officials handed in results every quarter hour, clearing the slate for someone new to earn money six different times throughout the jam-and the one with the most cash at the end of the night won. This meant that everyone kept shredding and pushing it the whole night, and a bunch of different riders got recognition when all was said and done.
The standout for the first half hour was definitely Canadian T.J. Schneider, who won the first fifteen-minute segment with slick frontside nosepicks on the Plexiglas quarterpipe into switch lipslides on the far-right down-rail. Mike Casanova, a local rider out of Breckenridge, was definitely a surprise force to be reckoned with. Event organizer Liz Weiss said she threw him a bib at the very last minute and shouted, “You’re in,” only to have him scurry to the top of the course and impress the hell out of the crowd, the judges, the other riders, and himself. Mike even won the Josh Malay Best Trick (an award given in honor of the late shred-hero Josh Malay) foor an ultra-tech trick that went something like this: half-Cab to 50-50 into backside 270 to noseslide, 270 out.
Of course, a lot of pro women were noticeably absent from the Session this year-several were publicly protesting the absent women’s slopestyle event. However, plenty of shred’s finest females showed up to ride rails, and thank god for that. Molly Aguirre styled out smooth 50-50s on the flat into Smith-to-fakies on the down. Laura Hadar hauled ass in, ollied the gap next to the kinked rail on the way up, stalled on the quarterpipe, then backside 50-50ed down the kink. She also Cabbed onto the flat down into a sick, sick frontside boardslide at the very end of the night. Rachel Nelson stuck a front-board or two on the flat down and conquered the kink, too. Leanne Pelosi got into switch 50-50 on the flat down and took a different line into the feature nearly every damn time. At the end of the jam, Alexis Waite finally got the extra-smooth tailslide on the flat down she’d been looking for all evening.
So, 2005-on the one hand, history was made and progression was at an all-time high for the men. But was it had at the expense of women’s progression? Partly. Like I said earlier, it’s a give and take. That’s life, and since snowboarding’s part of life, well, then that’s snowboarding, too.
1. Shaun White
2. Andreas Wiig
3. Rahm Klampert
4. Mikka Hast
5. Nate Sheehan
Women’s Rail Jam Results
1. Molly Aguirre
2. Laura Hadar
3. Leanne Pelosi
4. Rachel Nelson
5. Alexis Waite
Men’s Rail Jam Results
1. Shaun White
2. T.J. Schneider
3. Mitch Reed
4. Mike Casanova
5. Kevin Pierce
Josh Malay Best Trick Award: Mike Casanova, half-Cab to 50-50 into backside 270 to noseslide, 270 out.