Vans Triple Crown

By Whitey

The Grand Prix, The U.S. Open, The World Cup, The Interplantic Global Snowboarding Championships (a galactic clash of the titans): Snowboard contests today sound like battles for the good of mankind. The winners gain world domination, and the losers must bow to their every whim. The defeated are crushed by their victors' massive airs, and have their heads lopped off by the conquerors' switch backside 720s.

The Vans Triple Crown Series–a snowboard contest. Actually, it's more like an excuse for a bunch of slackers (who enjoy snowboarding and hate the thought of getting real jobs) to get together and snowboard. Most contestants don't have an ice cube's chance in hell of bringing home some cash with a win. The Triple Crown Series awards 10,000 dollars to the men and 7,500 to the women winner's of each of its disciplines: big air, halfpipe, and boardercross.

Yet hundreds of people show up, to see and be seen, then sit in the lodge and talk shit about how bad the conditions are, and how they'd kill it, but the big-air jump is way too flat and icy. And you know what? I'm usually right there with 'em, talking even more shit, and saying how I'd be getting the gnarliest picks, but the conditions stink and blah, blah, blah. Then, near the end of the day, I'd scurry to find out where the cheap drink specials are that night.

Putting on a contest is always an uphill battle, especially when

it's one of the first events of the year and you're in Colorado. You see, Colorado has been plagued with less snow than a bad case of dandruff lately. Well, bless the snow gods–you know those metallic, deafening snow guns that are worshipped by skiers and snowboarders alike when Mother Nature acts like a bitch. Luckily for us, Breck has enough snow guns to start an ice age. This year Breckenridge bought one of the new Super Dragons, which cuts a

bigger and badder halfpipe than the less fortunate resorts. Pat

Melandowski, pipe-cutter extraordinare, came out to cut the pipe, which was flawless, except for the fact that it was slow because the run wasn't steep enough.

The big air, on the other hand, was a death trap. The temperature during the contest was about twenty degrees, ensuring maximum butt-breaking potential. Many a competitor got to know the meaning of “the agony of defeat” personally. There were broken backs, busted faces, ripped tendons, and even a broken pelvis. The ski patrol earned their keep, pulling carcasses off the big-air landing, making way for the next poor soul. Josh Dirksen pulled off the best move of the big air on his first attempt with a backside 900, earning him a cool ten Gs. Breckenridge local Nick Drago got second, and Jussi Oksanen placed third with a switch backside 720, which was probably the second best trick of the contest. Tara Dakides took first in the women's competition with the usual backflip, followed by Kim Bohnsach and Erin McManus.

In the halfpipe competition, Nicola Thost was on another level than all the rest of the ladies with airs that were two to three times higher than the next closest competitor. Nicola had the cash in her bank account after her first run. Along with big back-to-back airs, Nicola performed head-high frontside 720s in the pipe. Cara-Beth Burnside came in second with Catherine Nieves in third. Ross Powers won the men's competition with some of the largest airs paired with the right amount of technical tricks to pull in the dough. He was followed by Gian Simmen and Tommy Czeschin. The boardercross results included ladies' winners Ine Poetzl followed by Maelle Ricker, and Doris Krings, and men's winners Philippe Conte, Berti Denervaud, and Tor Bruserud.

All in all, the contest was a success considering the minimal snow Breckenridge had to work with. I'm sure if I walked away with 10,000 dollars I'd feel that the contest was a bit more of a major success.

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