Photos: Andrew Sergeant, Scotty Arnold, T. Bird, Tanner Zachem, Jonathon Uthiem, Evan Pierce, Liam Austin
Too often these days, we sit at our computers or on our couches, staring at the television and witness spectacular snowboarding on the grandest of stages from the riding to the level of production, and that's currently what the mainstream views competitive snowboarding as. Recently, the allure of the once-coveted 22-foot superpipe is fading away, mainly because 1.) they're unbelievably expensive to build, 2.) they're extremely expensive to maintain and 3.) less than 5% of the general snowboarding public can air out of them. They're daunting. They're intimidating. They're simply unrelatable to most kids.
Enter the Bode Merrill Minipipe Invitational. Though the pipe is half the size, it seems to produce twice the fun, and that's exactly what Bode was going for when he incepted the event a few years back. What's come of it is one of the most talked about events of the summer up at High Cascade on the glacier of Mt. Hood. And while Bode is one of the best snowboarders in history and built his reputation by putting his life on the line by hitting features that would make most people's b-hole pucker, he likes to have fun more than anyone I know, and coming off one of his best winter's ever while filming for SNOWBOARDER's new release, Pepper, Mr. Merrill and friends simply want to do what everyone else does and that is to simply head on up to Mt. Hood to have some fun.
While mainstream, televised contests feature the usual suspects at every stop, one of the most entertaining and inspiring parts of the BMMI is the roster of riders standing atop the minipipe. This year, when one peered down from the drop-in, they could, at any point, look to their right or left and see names like Danny Davis, Max Warbington, Nils Mindnich, Trevor Otterson, Kelly Clark Bode Merrill, Chris Grenier, Luke Winkelmann, Hans Mindnich, Desiree Melancon, Tim Eddy, Forest Bailey, Scott Blum, Colin Langlois, and dozens more strapped in shoulder-to-shoulder and ready to drop. When was the last time that Danny D and Tim Eddy stood next to each other in a competitive arena? If your answer is the 2016 Bode Merrill Minipipe Invitational, then you very well may be correct.
The pipe was in pristine shape when we arrived at the start of the event, and by mid-day, it was literally and figuratively being torn apart by contest standouts Max Warbington, Nils Mindnich, Danny D, Luke Winkelmann, Keegan Hosefros, Reid Smith, Colin Langlois, Nate Carroll, Colin Langlois, Jake Pates, Brandon Reis, Kelly Clark Desiree Melancon, Hans Mindnich, Jacob Krugmire, Scott Blum, Hana Beaman, Zeb Powell and Finn Westbury. The riders mentioned and a handful more were standouts simply because I witnessed them drop in and ride more than anyone in attendance, basically, and that's the beauty of a minipipe contest with a rope tow or the option of hiking: it allows so many runs and so much action. These guys and gals were phenomenally consistent and showed a variety of tricks that was simply mind-blowing, and thanks to them and the other competitors, this year's Bode Merrill Minipipe Invitational was the best that I have ever attended in part because the pipe was in pristine condition and the rider field was simply having a damn good time in there. In the end, the results looked like this:
1. Max Warbington
2. Nils Mindnich
3. Danny Davis
4. Zeb Powell
5. Scott Blum and Louie Vito (tie)
6. Hans Mindnich and Colin Langlois
7. Jacob Krugmire
8. Chris Beresford and Bode Merrill
9. Finn Westbury and newly-turned pro Brandon Reis
10. 10. Jake Pates
1. Desiree Melancon
2. Kelly Clark
3. Nirvana Ortanez
Best Flip: Zeb Powell (back five to disaster on the rainbow box)
Best Plant: Nate Carroll (teabag on the rainbow box)
Best Grab: Nils Mindnich (switch method)
Highest Air: Nils Mindnich
Worst Crash: Zeb Powell (savage scorp)
Huge thanks to all the sponsors, riders and High Cascade Snowboard Camp for putting on such an amazing event, as well as Scotty Arnold and the insanely talented High Cascade Snowboard Camp Photo Workshop campers for contributing to this gallery. I can hardly wait until next year and it's only the morning after.