Ask any pro about contests, and their response is usually: “It’s great to hang out with friends and push each other’s riding, but it’s a bummer when the judging sucks and a bunch of people who don’t know about snowboarding tell you what to do.” For this reason, two seasons ago JP Walker, Jeremy Jones, and I approached Chad DiNenna (from Nixon), and told him we wanted to do an event¿our way …
For its second season, the Nixon Jib Fest is more than a contest; it’s set up as a two-day get-together of friends in support of the skate-style snowboarding we like. Held March 27 and 28 at Snow Summit, this year’s riders again included Bobby Meeks, Brian Thien, Mikey LeBlanc, and Nate Bozung, and saw the addition of Scotty Wittlake, Mitch Nelson, Jussi Oksanen, Todd Richards, and Kevin Jones. The crew was rounded out with JP, Jeremy, and I. Exclusive to a handful of photographers and filmers, it’s privately held on a run closed and guarded to all other spectators.
JP and I got to Snow Summit a couple of days early to help our friend Gunny (Chris Gunnarson) of Snow Park Technologies and his staff of hardworking badasses set up. With fifteen rails and obstacles (like one down a set of stairs that added more consequence, and a 40-foot S rail that took most of us two days to make), we broke it up into different sections to watch and session an area at a time.
The invited riders and photographers all stayed together in two houses right next to Summit. This worked great, because after the initial course building and each day of riding, we hobbled across the parking lot and took off our wet gear to soak in the Jacuzzi. At night, we’d have a little meeting over pizza to discuss what we wanted to do the following day.
Each morning we took laps on the chair to warm up, while Summit’s staff made sure each setup was salted so we could get the speed needed to hit it. (They also chased people out of the woods who were trying to spy on us.) Then the sessions started, sometimes just concentrating on one rail, and others times working three obstacles in a line.
All kinds of tricks went down on the fifteen-stair rail (nosepresses, frontside boardslides, blunt-slides, backside lipslides). At the end of day one, all of us sessioned this flatbox doing silly tricks, trying to stall on our nose as long as possible. On the last day, Scotty Wittlake jumped over us via the gateway rail, landing totally flat and stomping it, and Kevin Jones did a frontside 450 to boardslide to 270 out on the downhill rail.
After two days we judged each other, voting on the top-three most-impressive riders. Jeremy landed in third, and JP placed second. But it was Kevin who was in the zone¿he pretty much annihilated every obstacle. He won the grand prize¿a big barbecue¿but I think everyone who attended left feeling like they took away something from this lax contest scenario and were additionally given a limited-edition 24-karat-gold Nixon watch. I used to tell people that I hated going to contests¿I take it back.
Photo Incentive (Sidebar)
We wanted to do something cool with the photographers beyond just giving ’em watches, so JP came up with the great idea of having them battle it out in a riding contest of their own. Of course, he wanted to have it on a handrail, but we thought they might kill themselves (and we need them healthy). So they took it to the wallride. Taking part were Rob Mathis, Shem Roose, Andy Wright, Jeff Baker, Vianney Tisseau, and a couple others.
It was classic watching the photo guys get amped up hitting this thing. All the riders were there yelling and screaming. Andy Wright was trying backside disasters and nearly wrecked himself, while Mathis came out on top with stock rock ‘n’ rolls and almost broke his wrist in the process.