It’s a sign of the times that what once was a big air contest and then a quarterpipe is now a manmade rail-garden jam session. I’m talking about the US Open night event, an extravaganza that’s been coaxing crowds into the frigid Vermont nighttime not quite as long as the duration of the US Open itself, but almost. And in the grand tradition of honoring history but also moving forward in time, this year’s Friday evening soiree was it was: a rail-jam slaughterfest.
The US Open architects, namely the gentlemen from Snow Park Technologies, must’ve worked long and hard on this feature--a super-wide staircase concoction with jib options ranging damn near into the triple digits. Starting on looker’s right was a down box, then a kinked flat rail, followed by another longer down box with a kinked rail attached to it, a straight flat rail, a flat down box, and don’t forget the c-box on the very far left.
The action started off under misty sunset pinkness for qualifiers: first girls, then guys. A handful from each category moved on to join the prequalified riders already grandfathered into the finals. The lights went down. And it was on. The women got wicked in the form of Leanne Pelosi and several other shredders of the female persuasion who really settled the score. Pelosi had variety and difficulty on her side, boardsliding the c-box in qualifiers and boardslide to frontboarding the flat down box were just some of Leanne’s tricky stunts. She is from Canada and if you haven’t heard of her yet then you will soon. Like right now. A few standouts who didn’t end up on the podium were Laura Hadar, Marie-France Roy, and Anne Flore, all dominating their own little piece of the monster feature.
Last year’s winner Travis Rice showed up and 180ed to switch five-0 through the kink. King Grenerd Danny Kass 270ed onto the down box along with navigating a smooth switch frontside boardslide. Mr. Ryan Lougee kicked in his shock absorbers on a big backside 180 over the staircase, and later a Cab three over the same gap. But it was local Vermonter Chris Rotax who really blew people away by becoming the first and only person to attempt a 450 on to any part of the feature. It took him a few tries, but by the end of the hour-long jam format he dialed a backside 450 to frontside boardslide, 180 out. People scratched their heads, then cheered when it sunk in. It was pretty obvious who’d won Best Trick after that. Chris also earned third place over all with his performance, T. Rice stuck second, and another Vermonter, Rahm Klampert, became the reigning champ of this year’s US Open rail jam by, well, just getting nasty. Switch 50-50 on the rail to cab three off the kink. Fifty-fifty into 270 off the kink onto the down part of the rail. And a whole gamut of other mathematical equations I was too cold to add up or write down.
1. Rahm Klampert
2. Travis Rice
3. Chris Rotax
1. Leanne Pelosi
2. Erin Comstock
3. Natasza Zurek
Sobe Best Trick Award: Chris Rotax, 450 to frontside boardslide, 180 out