White Wins Park City's Inaugural Intelligent Design
Words: Jen Sherowski Photos: Liam Gallagher
Pipe riders haul ass up icy 22-foot walls, rail kids dull their edges and 270 in, kicker killers point it and send it--but it's all just snowboarding, right? That's roughly the idea behind Park City's all new Intelligent Design competition, featuring a grab bag of all of the above in one course at the base of Utah's most park-friendly resort. Starting off with a 60-foot kicker into a unique step-up hip jump, jib section, Superpipe, and finally a massive quarterpipe to finish things off--this outside-the-box contest venue makes being an all around snowboarder a total pre-requisite.
Up until the last minute, the event had commitment from a wide range of top riders--from Marc Frank Montoya and Mason Aguirre to Torstein Horgmo and Andreas Wiig--but at the very last minute the roster thinned out savagely. It seems that there were some end-of-season injuries (Aguirre broke his rib etc.), but evidently some folks just couldn't wrap their head around the concept. Says event mastermind Jim Mangan, Park City's Director of Action Sports Marketing, "There were some riders who said to me, 'Jim, it's just too much,' but you know we're pushing things and this is what needs to happen for the sport."
Of course, every pro snowboarder isn't an all-around attacker, but it was still a surprise that more riders didn't come out for the event--especially considering how many pros clamor from all ends of the earth to ride in commercial, non-endemic-generated events like the Dew Tour. I know how it is, though--"Show me the money!", right? Still, "I wish we could've had more support," says Mangan. "We worked our asses off and we're really doing something different here."
However, that's not to say that no one showed up (Shaun White, Luke Mitrani, Wyatt Caldwell were there, etc. etc.), and it's definitely not to say that no ripping went down (sweet airs, a backside 1260 on the kicker, and a double backy in the halfpipe!). The morning's qualifiers started off crisp and sunny with the likes of Joe Eddy, Sebastien Toutant, and Tim Humphries slaying the kicker-tranny-rail combo course while many others excelled at one element and struggled with another. It's like I said, the Intelligent Design is all about being all around--and it was impressive to see the younger guns adapting.
Since Shaun White was pre-qualified into the finals, no one got a real taste of his all-terrain mastery until finals practice time--and I gotta say it: After Shaun's first practice run it was obvious that he had the thing won. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The finals was best of three runs, and a young Charles Reid had three pretty flawless runs--a front 1080 off the kicker into a backside rodeo on the hip followed by a savage inverted frontside 900 in the halfpipe. And actually, Reid stepped up that nine in the pipe to 1080 on his last run--totally solidifying his number-two position on the podium. Let's see, what else? Norwegian Gjermund Braaten spun a backside 1260 on the top kicker so fast that announcer The Dingo called it a 1080, and Luke Mitrani launched straight from the back of the pack into third place with an explosive last run that included a frontside 900 on the kicker, back to back sevens in the pipe, and--you ready for this?--a switch double back flip at the bottom of the pipe. The crowd was stoked! However, sixteen-year-old Sebastien Toutant couldn't find the clean, killer runs that won him the morning's qualifiers, and Tim Humphreys battled consistency issues, too.
So what did Shaun do to win yet another title at his home resort of Park City? Well, after working his way down the kicker line with flawless spin maneuvers, he headed into the Superpipe and did this: backside 900, frontside 7, and Cab 1080--then on to the QP to loft a nice big backside rodeo 5. Yep, Shaun's consistency and his otherworldly ability to slay anything he points his snowboard at made him a total shoe-in for the gold medal today. Not showing up would've been like turning down $20,000 for him--and not even Shaun is rich enough to do that, right?
1. Shaun White
2. Charles Reid
3. Luke Mitrani
4. Gjermund Braaten
5. Wyatt Caldwell
6. Joe Eddy
7. Sage Kotsenburg
8. Tim Humphries
9. Sebastien Toutant
10. Louie Vito