Living The Dream 3: The Rob Kingwill Diary

All right already, I need to get my own computer so this crap goes out on time.

What is the dream? For me the dream is traveling the world, snowboarding as much as possible. I live my dream.

Last week I dreamt about a wonderful place called Breckenridge, where they can build huge kickers and halfpipes early season, even if it doesn’t snow a flake. You just have to love the miracle of snowmaking¿without it most of the U.S. ski resorts would still be closed, and me and a select group of my 140 friends wouldn’t have had the pleasure of riding the biggest contest halfpipe the U.S. has ever seen. Fourteen feet of glorious icy transitions, pushing all of the riders to their early season limits.

You can get a full play-by-play from Kurt Hoy’s coverage of the Van’s Triple Crown on this site. Since Kurt already covered it so well, I’ll try and give you, the reader, a competitor’s perspective:

We arrived at Denver International Airport at 5:00 p.m. after a hellish trip back from France. We met up with Ross Powers and Nicola Thost, future winners, also returning from Europe, and just as burnt out.

Let me tell you, one of the hardest things about being a pro snowboarder is the travel. Imagine putting your body through seemingly endless hours of sitting in planes and cars, usually missing sleep for days at a time, then trying to adjust to a wacky time zone, and then pushing yourself to ride at your highest level on the sometimes not-so-friendly halfpipes and kickers.

It can be tough. Throw in a nasty flu virus spread through the filters on the airplane, and the game gets even trickier. Needless to say, we were very grateful to finally arrive at our hotel in Breck. I love America. That’s all I have to say.

Now for what I have to say about the contest: I’m mostly a halfpipe competitor¿so that is where I hung out the most. I fore-ran the boardercross, which didn’t seem as sketchy as last year, and was actually pretty fun when I ran it against a couple of my friends.

The course went like this; pump, turn, berm, double, hip, double, table, crazy whoop section, berm, bank, hip, and point-it-to-a-little-gap double for the photo finish. The exciting part comes when you throw in a couple of over-aggro Euros trying to run you over every chance they get. Add in early season rock hard conditions and things get gnar pretty quick.

It dumped the night of the contest, so if you got bumped off the main track you got to ride some nice soft powder. My man on the inside, Seth Wescott, just told me the Euros had their group-blocking techniques down and succeeded in knocking all the Americans into the powder slowness. I think the fastest U.S. guy was Jason Evans in eleventh. I know we’ll come back with a vengeance. The U.S. ladies did great, especially since most had only been on snow for a few days.

On to the halfpipe: My only wish is that we could have had a few more days practice in that magnificent beast. Everyone seemed to double in confidence with each passing day. Once the big tranny jitters went away, and some of us found bigger boards, things started to gel, and some serious shit was thrown down.

If you want to know everything about the scene, check out Hoy’s article. I’m only interested in the riding. The finals had some of the best runs I’ve seen to date.

The breakdown goes a bit like this: Powers won with HUGE straight airs (he told me they were the biggest he’d ever done in a contest), a frontside 900, Mctwist, air to fakie, cab 720.

Gian Simmen probably got the play of the day and second place with a ten-foot tailgrab air to fakie, Haakonflip, frontside air, frontside alley oop stalefish, and a frontside 720.

Tommy Czeschin rounded out the top three with big straight airs, back-to-back 720s to frontside 900 flip to method.

Other remarkables were John Sommers’ back-to-back Haakons to the most stomped 720 backside rodeo I have ever witnessed, Jussi Oksanen’s 900 Haakonflip, and possibble play of the day: Lael Gregory’s ten-foot backside 540.

As for the women, the only image burned into my mind is Nicola Thost busting harder than I have ever seen, with a huge frontside 720 and standard Nicola style. She won by more than eleven points. I admire her greatly.

As for myself, I crashed horribly on a satoflip in the semi final. You win some, you lose some. Hopefully I can pull it together tomorrow here at the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix in Mammoth. I’ll tell you all about what happens next week.

I totally missed the big air. I heard it was filled with more carnage than in Saving Private Ryan. I will never understand the constant flow of people willing to chuck themselves off a kicker with no practice. Brandon Ruff killed it in practice. My best wishes go out to all the people who got hurt last weekend¿hope you heal up quick.

That’s it. I’m done. Time to go to bed so I can wake up and see what the dream has in store for me tomorrow.

P.S. Pray for snow.

Editor’s note: Kingwill woke up the next day, won the Mammoth pipe event and $10,000, then flew up to Whistler, and took third place the next day. I think he likes the traveling more than he says.